Tag Archives: British music

Second half of the season kicks off soon

The second half of the season starts tonight, Monday 5 February and we are delighted to welcome Simon Coombs from the Vaughan Williams Society who is going to discuss and play music by this great English composer.  Starts at 7:30 as usual and is only £3 to non-members.  Parking is easy and free and details of how to find us are on the ‘Find us’ tab at the top of the site.

We look forward to welcoming existing members back also any new visitors.

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The ‘Scottish Orpheus’

The music of James Oswald, described as the ‘Scottish Orpheus’

James Oswald was born in the little town of Crail, Fife and started life as a dancing master in Dunfermline.  He spent time in Edinburgh and

James Oswald. Pic: Spartacus-educational

then went to London and started to compose music based on Scottish tunes then the rage in the 1740’s.  He set up shop near St Martin’s Churchyard and this became a meeting place for expatriate Scots.  He developed his links with the English aristocracy and was appointed Chamber Composer by George III.

We were delighted to welcome Jeremy Barlow to the meeting, an authority on this period of music.  Jeremy is one of the most versatile musicians on the British early music scene, with a career encompassing writing, lecturing, and performing.  After studying at Trinity College Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music, London, his first job was as flutist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

But what characterises Scottish music and makes it so recognisable?  The basic reason is that it is based on the pentatonic scale not the normal 7 note scale we are used to.  It also has a base accompaniment which is a chord which only changes one note at a time as the melody progresses.  The third feature is something called the ‘Scotch Snap’, a short accented note before a longer note.  These combine to give Scottish music its particular sound.

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Jeremy Barlow

As an introduction, Jeremy played the Birthday Ode for Queen Mary composed in 1692 by Henry Purcell.  This uses a Scottish tune in the base line.  We also heard contemporary examples by William McGibbon; Francesco Geminiani and Alexander Erskine, Earl of Kelly.  The main part of the evening was music by Oswald which included Airs for the Seasons, the curiously named Dust Cart Cantata and the Divertimento No. 8 for English guitar.  Jeremy Barlow directed the Broadside Band in Airs for all the Seasons, Oswald’s finest work.

Oswald became particularly friendly with John Robinson-Lytton the owner of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.  After Robinson-Lytton died he married his widow and moved into Knebworth, he had surely come a long way.

An interesting evening concerning the work of a composer few would be familiar with.


I am indebted to the notes provided by Jeremy in writing this piece

Peter Curbishley

Next meeting 13 November which is a members’ evening so please let Tony Powell know what your choice is.

 

 

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Pupils of famous composers

Who was this composer’s teacher?

Many composers taught pupils in a kind of apprenticeship scheme.  Composers often needed the money and no doubt the son or daughter of a wealthy family brought in a useful income.  Some pupils went on to have promising careers – others did not have sufficient talent to succeed.

In last night’s meeting Alan Forshaw played pieces by a variety of composers and asked us to guess who had been their teacher.  A combination of style, dates and where they lived or studied gave us a clue in some cases, especially the earlier ones, but it became steadily more difficult as we approached modern times.  Once again in a Society evening, we heard examples of music by long forgotten composers who’s music is worthy of a hearing.  Many were prolific in their day turning out operas, symphonies and concertos by the dozen.  The pieces we heard were:

  • a piano sonata in C by Johann Muthel a pupil of JS Bach
  • the Adagio from the Symphonie Concertante in A by Ignaz Pleyel, who’s name survives on pianos and music scores.  He wrote 41 symphonies. He was taught by Haydn and his influence was audible
  • Thomas Attwood (pictured) studied in Vienna under Mozart and his remains are buried in St Pauls.  We heard his Rondo from a Trio fo

    Thomas Attwood

    r Piano, Violin and ‘cello

  • this was followed by a Fantasia by Steven Storace who was born in London and also studied in Vienna
  • Carl Czerny is slightly better known and was a pupil of Beethoven.  The master’s influence could clearly be heard in his Theme and Variations for Horn and Piano
  • another pupil of Beethoven was Ferdinand Reis, a native of Bonn (a clue) and his Rondo from a Piano Concerto in C# minor showed a lot of talent
  • Franz Liszt needs no introduction and was a pupil of Czerny in Vienna.  We heard his Hungarian Rhapsody No 13
  • the immensely talented but almost unknown Carl Filtsch from Romania led Liszt to say when he heard him play, he would give up performing.  Tragically, he died in his teens but his Impromptu in Gb Major showed what a loss he was to music
  • another pupil of Czerny was Thomas Tellefsen from Norway who also studied in Paris.  Waltz in Db Major
  • Valsa Caprichosa from 3 Portuguese Scenes was composed by a pupil of Liszt, Jose Vianna da Motta who was born on the island of Sao Tome off the coast of Africa
  • Carl Reinecke has almost disappeared from view and is rarely heard today.  His Finale from Wind Octet in Bb Major was a delight
  • Gabriel Fauré needs no introduction who was a pupil of  Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns.  We heard the famous Paradisum from the Requiem
  • Someone less famous, or even unheard of, is Eugene Gigout also from France who studied in Paris under Saint-Saëns.  His Toccata in B Minor is exciting and worth listening to.  He was a famous organist in his day (born 1844)
  • Josef Suk was part of a large musical family and studied under Antonín Dvořák famous for his Symphony from the New World.  Suk does sometimes make it onto present day concerts and last night we heard the Andante from the Serenade for Strings Opus 6, a fine piece
  • Glazunov was a pupil of  Rimsky-Korsakov and studied in St Petersburg.  A prolific composer and we heard the preamble from Scenes de Ballet
  • another pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov was Igor Stravinsky one of the composers who had an enormous influence over the course of 20th century musical history and famous for his ballets.  His Piano Sonata No 2 was special and well worth a listen if you can
  • the Australian Percy Grainger had several teachers and studied in Berlin and elsewhere.  We heard the extraordinary Zanzibar Boat Song – six hands on one piano
  • Busoni was the teacher of Frederick Loewe famous for his musicals with Alan Lerner and it was The Rain In Spain from My Fair Lady we heard to illustrate his talent
  • Lennox Berkeley was a pupil of the enigmatic Maurice Ravel who’s influence could just be heard in Polka Opus 5a

    Vaughan Williams

  • Finally, another pupil of Ravel was Vaughan Williams (and we will be hearing more of him later in the season with a talk from the Vaughan Williams Society coming).  We heard part of March ‘Seventeen Come Sunday from the Folk Song suite (1924)

Alan had put in a lot of work to track down some of the more obscure pieces especially in the first half which made it an interesting and worthwhile evening.

Peter Curbishley


Next meeting on 30 October

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New season’s programme

Two evenings devoted to this composer

Two evenings devoted to this composer

The new season’s programme has now been finalised and will soon be printed for distribution.  You can see a copy of the brochure here ahead of publication.  The committee has put together an excellent programme with two outside speakers and one, for the first time, from the Delius Society.  We have one ‘live’ music evening as well as presentations on a wide range of topics from Society members themselves.

Meeting arrangements are as before and parking is easy.  New members are always welcome – we’ve had several this year – and if you want to come along to an evening without commitment, there is a small fee of £3 to help with our expenses.

Existing members: if you can do anything to help promote events that would be appreciated.

The first evening will be on Monday 19 September.

Programme

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End of season

With last night’s meeting, the current season of the Society came to an end and will resume in September.  Next year’s programme is well underway and has a lively combination of home grown and invited speakers as well as a ‘live’ performance.  The committee met before the meeting and one item was a review of the year and all agreed that it had been an excellent one.  With two live performances as well as the usual fare of CDs, the programme was diverse and interesting.  The Society exists to enable people to broaden their knowledge and enjoyment of classical music in a non challenging way.

We had presentations which focused on the Great War, two on famous conductors – Mackerras and Bernstein – and we welcomed Lord Aberdare of the Berlioz Society for a memorable presentation.  The role of lesser known composers especially from these shores and from the Baltic countries was also notable.  Altogether a successful year.

Meetings take place in Salisbury every other Monday evening during the season which starts again on 19 September.  Directions can be found on the ‘Find us’ tab.  Parking is easy.  New members are always welcome and feel free to come along to a meeting.  Full details of the new programme will be published here once it is finalised and a leaflet will be available in the Collector’s Room in Endless Street; Oxfam’s music room and in the Tourism Office in Butcher Row.

We look forward to seeing you.

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Live performance!

 

Next meeting is a live performance

Yes, we are the ‘recorded’ music society but this is an exception.  Members will recall a David Davies 3 croppedprevious evening at which David Davies performed on the keyboard.  Now we are delighted to see him return for an evening of baroque music played by David and some friends.  These include David Morgan and Sue Wyatt (violins), Sally Reid (‘cello) and David himself who will be on the harpsichord.  It will be more than just the music as there will be some explanation about the music and the instruments.

The programme includes works by familiar composers including Boyce, Bach, Handel and Corelli as well as some less well know composers such as Veracini, Krieger, Leclair and Finger.

For non-members, tickets on the door will be a modest £2 for the evening.

7.30 on Monday 29th February at the rear of the Guide’s Centre.  Details of how to find us is on the ‘Find us’ tab.  Parking is easy and free.  We look forward to seeing you.  Space is limited so please arrive in good time.

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#Programme for 2015/16 now being finalised

Members and supporters might like early sight of the new provisonal programme for 2015/16.  We have continued the recent innovation of having a live performance even though we are called the ‘recorded’ music society.  We have some speakers who are familiar as well as some new faces so there should be plenty to interest music lovers.  You will find the pdf version clearer for technical reasons.

2015 16 programme (pdf)

Date Speaker and title
2015
September 21 Ed Tinline.  Music from Sibelius 150th Anniversary Festival, Lahti, Finland
October 5 Barry Conaway.  ‘1911 – new music of a sunset year’ including Delius, Elgar, Mahler and Sibelius
October 19 Peter Curbishley  ‘… but I don’t like modern music’.  Music by Schoenberg, Shostakovich and other ‘moderns’
November 2 Christopher Guild.  ‘The music of Roland Center (1913 – 1973) and the influence of Britten, Shostakovich, Ravel and Vaughan Williams on his work’ (provisional title)
November 16 Alastair Aberdare.  ‘A Berlioz Miscellany’.  Lord Aberdare is a member of the Berlioz Society
November 30 Members’ Evening
2016  
February 1 TBA
February 29 A Baroque Evening.  David Morgan, Sue Wyatt, Sally Reid and David Davies will bring their baroque instruments to give a live performance, including music by Corelli, Gottfried Finger and Handel
March 14 Anthony Powell.  ‘A personal musical journey – 60 years of discovery, including works by Beethoven, Mahler, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Butterworth
April 4 Robin Lim.  Title to be confirmed
April 18 TBA
May 9 Members’ evening
May 23 Jon Hampton.  ‘The art of the arranger’.  To include works by Boccherini, arranged by Berio, Bach by Elgar and Schubert by Britten

Please note that some elements may change so it is always worth coming to this site to get the up to date position.  We are always looking for new presenters and if you would like to volunteer that would be appreciated.  If you are nervous about being on your feet then someone else can do the presentation for you if you prefer.  We look forward to seeing you in the autumn.

Shostakovich

Shostakovich

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Meeting

The last meeting of the Society was on Monday, March 2nd.  We were pleased to welcome a speaker from EM Records, based locally at Blandford Forum, which is the recording arm of the English Music Festival and fulfils the EMF’s aims of celebrating and preserving overlooked works by British composers throughout the centuries.  It has a strong focus on the early twentieth century: the Golden Renaissance of English music. EM Records resolves to bring this glorious music to a world-wide audience. In keeping with the unique spirit of the Festival, each disc released by EM Records will contain at least one World Première recording. 

As well as learning some of what is involved in preparing, recording and producing CDs of the highest quality, we also gained an insight into the issues raised when unearthing and interpreting previously unpublished manuscripts.  Recordings of better known English composers like Vaughan Williams, Holst and Stanford were interspersed with some lovely recordings of works by lesser known lights such as David Owen Morris and Henry Walford Davies, the latter being the composer of the instantly recognisable RAF March past.

This is the second time the Society has gone behind the scenes, so to speak, and heard about the process of recording a CD.

See also English Music Festival

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New season gets underway

The first evening of the new programme started on Monday with Michael Salmon asking ‘is this another English

Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams

renaissance?’  After the deaths of Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Delius and Britten, new British music has often appeared to lack direction and to a certain extent quality.  However, since 1950, there has been a significant change and Michael will be looking at a group of modern British composers whose music, although always intensely lyrical, appears, in many cases to follow the 19th century French School with its harmony, impressionism and minimalism.

Note this was a change to the published programme.

A review will appear here shortly.

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