In Flanders’ Fields

A century ago, the First World War was in full swing.  The battle for Ypres was taking place in April 1916 and it was the first time phosgene gas was used.  It is difficult to believe that out of this carnage and bloodletting, some lovely music, poetry and art was created.

At the last meeting, Richard Seal played a selection of pieces which were composed during the time of the war or inspired by it.  Richard was much moved by visits to the war graves in Flanders including Vimy Ridge, Arras and Thiepval where he hopes to go to again.

He began with A Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth who died on the Somme in 1916 aged just 31.  This is a familiar piece and his death was a great loss to music.  This was followed by the last movement of Morning Heroes by Sir Arthur Bliss who lived until 1975 but who lost his brother in the conflict.  He returned to the battlefield in 1928 and this piece was the result of that visit.

This was followed by Three songs by Ivor Gurney.  Gurney had a troubled life and was both a poet and composer.  He was gassed while serving with the Gloucester regiment but his biggest problem was his mental health.  At the time he was thought to be the greatest of his generation but his full promise never materialised.

Britten was too young for the war but his War Requiem, which was composed for the consecration of Coventry Cathedral destroyed in WWII, was inspired by the poems of Wilfrid Owen who regrettably died a week before the Armistice.

Frederick Septimus Kelly

This was followed by an Elegy for strings and harp by Frederick Kelly who died in 1916. An Australian he also had a gold medal for rowing in the 1908 Olympics and this elegy was in memory of Rupert Brooke who also lost his life.

Some pieces by Charles Ives followed including In Flanders’ Fields composed in 1917.

The evening finished with the last movement of the Pastoral Symphony by Vaughan Williams.  The First World War, in which he served in the army in the medical corps, had a lasting emotional effect.

It was a fascinating evening and the presenter’s erudition about this moving period of our history shone through.


The next meeting is on April 18th

peter curbishley

Next meeting

The next meeting of Salisbury Recorded Music Society, will be tonight Monday 4th April 2016 at 7.30pm, in our usual venue.  Richard Seal will be presenting In Flanders Fields – music inspired by World War I including works by Vaughan Williams, Britten and George Butterworth.  A great deal of attention is paid to the poets who were affected by the war, rather less attention is paid to the composers who were also strongly influenced by the carnage. 

#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

Members evening

The Society met for the last time before Christmas and listened to selections by members of their favourites.  There was an extremely wide ranging and very interesting choice of music starting with a version of Ruslan and Ludmilla played by a horn ensemble.  Other items included the prelude to Mascagni’s opera William Ratcliff demonstrating that he was not just a ‘one opera’ composer.

Among other presentations was a mono recording of Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier.  Bach composed these before the piano forte was invented so some modern renditions are not entirely faithful to the sort of sound he intended.  This early recording by Edwin Fischer was perhaps truer to that.  Also by Bach we heard an aria from St Matthew Passion where the alto and violin weave through the melody.

For Wagner lovers – and even for non-Wagner lovers – we heard the well known prelude to the Master Singers.   A lighter touch was provided by Dudley Moore playing And the Same to You – a parody of Beethoven, performed at Beyond the Fringe.

Other pieces included:

  • Gustav Mahler’s Ruckertleider No 5 sung by Janet Baker
  • Beethoven’s Bagatelles (selection of)
  • Mozart’s Vedrai carino from Don Giovanni
  • Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax
  • an exceprt from Verdi’s Aida
  • the wonderful Fantasy in F Minor by Schubert
  • one of the songs from Four Last Songs by Strauss
  • and we finished with part of The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

So a fine end to the first half of the season and we wish all our readers a happy Christmas.


The new season starts off on February 2 with a fascinating presentation by Frida Backman of the Backman Trio who will be taking us through the process of making a CD from rehearsal to the finished thing.  We look forward to seeing you then.  Details of where we are on the home page.  Please check back here nearer the time for any change to the arrangements.