Tag Archives: recorded music

Earth, Air, Fire and Water

This was the title of the last presentation to the Society by Jon Hampton and it featured music based on these Greek elements.  Before all, there was chaos and we started with an excerpt from Haydn’s Creation which for its time, was harmonically daring.  Next were some songs by Finzi and then an unlikely titled piece by Martinu – Thunderbolt P47 a near relative of which is shown here at the Chalke Valley History Festival.   This was followed by Bantock’s Sea  Reivers.  Bantock is not often heard now but he was influential in the founding of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and both Elgar and Sibelius dedicated pieces to him.

Poulenc’s Un Soir de neige followed and then the lively Ritual fire Dance by Manuel de Falla – a piece where the ending never quite seems to come.  More Haydn – this time a movement entitled Earthquake from the Last seven Words of our Saviour on the Cross.

Possibly the loudest work in the classical repertoire is the Icelandic composer Leif’s Heklar.  This is a musical depiction of the eruption of a volcano by this name which Leif witnessed.  Leif studied in Germany and was responsible for organizing the first orchestral concerts in his home country.

The Russian composer Lyadov is not often heard nowadays.  He taught at St Petersburg and one of his pupils was Prokofiev.  We heard his The Enchanted Lake.

Bruckner’s Abendzauber followed which was composed in 1878 and not performed in his lifetime.  It was a popular piece in Austria after the First World War but is seldom heard now.  We then heard Messiaen’s Fetes and a piece by Klami just called BF3.  Weber’s Ocean thy Mighty Monster was followed by Frank Bridge’s Seafoam.  The evening concluded with Britten’s Storm  from Peter Grimes.

This was an entertaining evening with the chance to hear some unfamiliar pieces around the central theme.  The audience were grateful for the time Jon Hampton  put into selecting the works and compiling the programme.

Peter Curbishley


Next meeting on Monday 19 March and will feature the Russian composer Shostakovich.  There will be a few slides of Leningrad taken when the composer was still living there.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Next meeting – March

Next meeting

The next meeting of Salisbury Recorded Music Society will be held tonight, Monday 5th March 2018 at 7.30pm in the usual venue when Jon Hampton will present: “Earth, Air, Fire and Water – An exploration of how the elements have inspired composers from Haydn to Mahler and beyond.”

Hope to see you there.  Free parking and £3 to non-members

Leave a comment

Filed under Group news

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Chair of the VW Society gives presentation

Simon Coombs, the Chair of the Vaughan Williams Society, gave an extremely interesting and informative talk on the music of Vaughan Williams to a packed room at the last Society meeting on Monday.  Regarded as one of Britain’s great composers, he produced a wide range of music, including songs, symphonies, choral works, chamber music and works with a religious theme.  He was what one might call a ‘late developer’ not finding his voice until his ’30s (reminiscent of Bruckner).

Simon took us through his history starting with his childhood in Down Ampney and his later life in Dorking (Surrey) and Chelsea.  He showed promise at school, composing a short piece called ‘The Robin’ aged 6.  Later he went on to study under Parry and Max Bruch.  He spent time in Paris studying with Maurice Ravel who said of him ‘he was the only one of my students who doesn’t try to write my music’.

He was keenly interested in folk music and started to collect these in 1903.  He was not the first composer to be

Vaughan Williams

influenced by the folk song tradition (one thinks of Bartok) and much of his early work was founded on this tradition.  He was friendly with George Butterworth who shared his passion for English folk songs and who offered advice to VW in his early days including suggesting that he write a symphony.  It is a surprising fact but there are no performed symphonies by a British composer before VW and Elgar.  The suggestion by Butterworth is therefore something of a revolutionary suggestion.  Butterworth died tragically young in the Great War.  VW was keen to contribute to the war and served as an ambulance driver and stretcher bearer.  Like many who served in the trenches, the War made a lasting impression including the loss of friends.

He was keen to popularise his music and started the Leith Hill Music Festival (near Dorking) in 1905 and which still thrives.  He had a huge output which included 9 symphonies.

Simon played a mixture of his works, some familiar, others less often heard.  These included the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; an extract from the Sea Symphony (1909); a song from 5 Mystical Songs; parts of the London Symphony (1913) and the Pastoral Symphony (1921) and from number 4 (1934).

Perhaps the work most recognisably as his is the Lark Ascending strongly influenced by his love of folk songs (1914).  Other pieces included an extract from the English Folk Song Suite (1923), Serenade to Music (1938) and from one of his operas Hugh the Drover.  He was approached by Muir Mathieson to compose the music for the film Thirty Ninth Parallel which he composed in a matter of weeks.

This was a brilliant start to the second half of the season.

Peter Curbishley

Leave a comment

Filed under Vaughan Williams

Next meeting

The next meeting takes place on Monday 16 October at 7:30 and will be a presentation by Alan Forshaw on the topic ‘works by pupils of famous composers’.  Should be interesting.  Usual place the Guides Centre with easy parking to the rear.  £3 for non-members.

1 Comment

Filed under Forthcoming meeting

Schubert Centenary Competition

Finishing the Unfinished

It is well-known that Franz Schubert did not finish his eighth symphony, Number 8 in D Minor. What is less well-known that there was a competition launched in 1928 inviting composers to compose the final movements from the surviving notes.  The competition was proposed by the British arm of the Columbia Phonograph company after the bankruptcy of the American parent.  1927 was the centenary of Beethoven’s death and the company released electrical copies of all nine symphonies which were a commercial success.  What to do next?  Well 1928 was the centenary of Schubert’s death and so a competition to complete the Unfinished was proposed.  A prize of over £100,000 in today’s money was to be awarded.

Cue outrage from the musical world and cries of ‘sacrilege’.  The original theme of the competition was dropped and in its place a competition for new works where composers were required to:

[provide] compositions, apart from faultless formal structure, must be marked by the predominance of a vigorous melodic content, and the number of instruments employed must not substantially exceed the measure established by the classical orchestras of time.

Last night’s presentation about this subject was by Robin Lim who had clearly done a deal of research to unearth the background and to find some of the music composed for this competition.

The first piece was by Felix Weingartner and was his Symphony No 6 from which we heard the allegro.  This incorporated some of the known fragments but could not be considered for the competition as he was invited to sit on the judging panel.

Next we heard two movements in symphonic form by Frank Merrick from Bristol, best known in his day as a pianist.

After that was a piece called Pax Vobiscum by john St Anthony Johnson born circa 1874 and about whom little is known.

Finally before the break we heard the 3rd movement from Hans Gal’s Symphony No 1.  Gal lived in Edinburgh and was interned as an enemy alien during WWII.

The evening ended by listening to some of the prize winners.  The judging panel was extraordinary and included Ravel, Respighi, de Falla, Szymanowski and Thomas Beecham.  Third prize went to a piece by Czeslaw Marek (who’s music we have heard in an earlier evening of the Society).  We heard an extract from his symphonia.  This is a composer who we should hear more of as he only rarely appears on concert programmes.

Second prize went to Franz Schmidt and we heard the scherzo from his 3rd Symphony.  This composer does still sometimes still feature in concert programmes – indeed he was performed in the 2015 Proms – but is not well known.

The winner?  This was by the composer Kurt Atterberg and we heard the finale to his 6th Symphony.

The story did not end there though.  Ernest Newman writing in the Sunday Times that;

Atterberg may have looked down the list of judges and slyly made up his mind that he would put ins a bit of something that would appeal to each of them in turn – a bit of Scheherazade for the Russian Glazunov, a bit of Cockaigne for Mr Tovey, a bit of the New World Symphony for Mr Damrosch, and bit of Petrushka for the modernist Alfan and bit of Granados for Salazar … but I wonder if there may not be another explanation  … Atterberg is not merely a composer.  He is a musical critic … suppose he looked round with a cynical smile that was all the world knows all critics wear and decided to pull the world’s leg?

The story was picked up by other newspapers and stories with headlines such as “£2000 Symphony hoax” and “Joke of Swedish Composer” soon appeared.  Columbia sought to recoup the prize money but it was too late — Atterberg had spent it on a new Ford car.

A fascinating insight into a period of musical history which has been all but forgotten.

Peter Curbishley


I am grateful for the notes provided by Robin Lim in writing this piece.

Next meeting 16 October

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Meeting report

Member’s evening

The next meeting takes place on Monday 8th of May and will be a member’s evening.  If you have a particular piece you like or want to hear played then liaise with Anthony Powell.  Usual place usual time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Group news, Members evening

Next meeting

Frederick Delius

 Our next meeting on Monday 24th April celebrates the music of the English composer Frederick Delius.  We are pleased to welcome Martin Lee-Browne to the Society who is from the Delius Society and will be coming down from the Midlands to speak to us and play some of his works.

Normal start at 7.30 and details of where we are can be found at the top of the page.  It is £3 for non-members.  Parking is easy and the room is accessible for people with disabilities.  We look forward to seeing you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Forthcoming meeting

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Society will be on Monday 20 March starting at 7:30 as usual and will a presentation  by Ed Tinline on the development of woodwind.  He will be playing a selection of pieces including wind soloists and also ensemble playing.
The committee will be meeting immediately prior to the main session.  If members reading this have any points they would like the committee to consider, or you might be interested in presenting or co-presenting a session, please let one of the members know.
 
 
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Group news

Meeting tonight

The second half of the season kicks off tonight at 7:30 as usual.  Angus Menzies will be talking about music fit for an emperor.

Leave a comment

Filed under Forthcoming meeting

Mozart’s Last Year

Mozart’s last year was the title of a presentation to the Society by group member Peter Curbishley.  There probably isn’t another composer about whom there are so many myths particularly surrounding his death in December 1791, almost exactly 225 years ago.  The film Amadeus by Peter Shaffer did not help.  Although entertaining, it gave credence to wild rumours about poisoning which are now known to be untrue.

Pic: Anthem Arts

Peter played extracts from most of the works he wrote in the final months of his life.  This included of course the Requiem, but also from the operas The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito.  The Magic Flute was a huge success and is the fourth most performed opera ever written.  La Clemenza di Tito by contrast was a failure and languished unperformed until the 1950s.  This was in part due to a part written for a castrato, a practice which, mercifully, died out soon after the opera was written.

Members also heard extracts from the Clarinet Concerto written two months before his death, a string quintet and the last Horn Concerto.  Despite the huge body of brilliant music Mozart had composed before he died, he was Peter explained, only just beginning.  Part of the last piano concerto, finished in the early part of that year.  Had he lived into the nineteenth century who knows what he might have produced.  His death – from a streptococcal throat infection not poison – was a tragic loss to the world of music.
This was the last meeting of the first part of the programme and the next meeting is in February.  Seasons greetings to all our readers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Meeting report