Archives for posts with tag: A E Houseman

Hound From 1917, the Carnegie Trust in the UK began a scheme to encourage the publication of large scale British musical works by asking composers to submit manuscripts. An anonymous panel chose up to six works per year for an award – publication at the expense of the Trust, in conjunction with Stainer and Bell. Unfortunately the war delayed things for the earliest prizewinners. The first to be published (in 1918) was the Piano Quartet in A minor by Herbert Howells. (It caught the attention of the young William Walton, who successfully submitted his own Piano Quartet six years later). By the end of 1920 some 13 works were available. 30 were out by the end of 1922, and when the scheme finally closed in 1928 some 60 substantial works that might not otherwise have seen the light of day had been issued under the Carnegie Collection of British Music imprint.

Today these scores with their distinctive covers aren’t all that easy to find – and they haven’t aged well. I recently bought a copy of Cyril Rootham’s Brown Earth on Ebay – this was once a very popular choral piece. Probably the most commercially successful of all the Carnegie works was Holst’s Hymn of Jesus, but it’s the hidden gems and almost forgotten composers that provide the fascination. Recently there’s been a successful revival of the W H Harris choral work Hound of Heaven, which might be followed up with a recording.

Finding out about this collection of scores isn’t easy today. A 2014 dissertation from the University of Iowa includes some very useful research, and a collection of most (over 50) or the scores is held at the Maughan Library (part of Kings College, London, on the Strand). I couldn’t find an accessible list anywhere on the Internet, so below is an alphabetical list of the holdings at Maughan Library.

Edgar Bainton (1880-1956). Concerto Fantasia: for piano and orchestra. Before Sunrise: a symphony for contralto solo, chorus, and orchestra.

Granville Bantock (1868-1946). Hebridean Symphony.

Herbert Bedford (1867-1945). Night Piece, The Shepherd: for voice (contralto or mezzo), flute, oboe, and piano.

Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960). Pastoral Fantasy: for string quartet.

Rutland Boughton (1878-1960). The Immortal Hour: music-drama.

York Bowen (1884-1961). String Quartet No 2 in D minor, op 41.

Ina Boyle (1889-1967). The Magic Harp: rhapsody for orchestra.

Sam Hartley Braithwaite (1883-1951). Elegy: for orchestra. Snow Picture: for orchestra.

Frank Bridge (1879-1941). The Sea: suite for orchestra.

Alan Bush (1900-1995). String Quartet in A minor, op 4.

Lawrence A Collingwood (1887-1982). Poeme Symphonique: for orchestra.

Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909). Tam o’Shanter: concert overture.

Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946). The Enchanted Garden: opera in one act, op 65.

George Dyson (1883-1964). Three Rhapsodies: for string quartet, op 7.

David Emlyn 1843-1913. Concerto for String Orchestra, op 7.

Harry Farjeon (1878-1948). Phantasy Concerto: for piano and chamber orchestra, op 64. St Dominic Mass: for choir, orchestra, solo soprano, tenor and solo violin, op 51.

Ernest Farrar (1885-1918). Three Spiritual Studies: for string orchestra, op 33. English Pastoral Impressions: suite for orchestra.

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). A Severn Rhapsody: for chamber orchestra.

Nicholas Gatty (1874-1946). Prince Ferelon, or, The Princess’s Suitors: a musical extravaganza in one act.

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs. The Blue Peter: a comic opera in one act.

Ivor Gurney (1890-1937). The Western Playland: song-cycle for baritone voice, string quartet and piano. Ludlow and Teme: song-cycle for tenor voice, string quartet and piano.

W H Harris (1883-1973). The Hound of Heaven, for baritone solo, chorus & orchestra.

Edward Norman Hay (1889-1943). String Quartet in A major.

Victor Hely-Hutchinson (1901-1947). Variations, Intermezzo, Scherzo & Finale: for orchestra.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934). The Hymn of Jesus: for two choruses, semi-chorus and full orchestra, op 37.

Howells, Herbert (1892-1983). Piano Quartet in A minor, op 21. Rhapsodic Quintet: clarinet quintet, op 31.

John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948). Solway Symphony.

Jeffrey Mark (1898-1965). Scottish Suite: for violins and piano.

Percy Hilder Miles (1878-1922). Sextet in G minor.

Robin Milford (1903-1959). Double Fugue for Orchestra, op 10.

Edward Mitchell. Fantasy Overture: for orchestra (with six horns).

R O Morris (1886-1948). Fantasy: for string quartet.

Cyril Rootham (1875-1938). Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, for soloists, chorus, semi chorus & orchestra. Brown Earth, for chorus, semi-chorus & orchestra.

Alec Rowley (1892-1958). The Princess Who Lost a Tune: ballet-mime.

Cyril Scott (1879-1970). Nativity Hymn: for chorus, soli and orchestra.

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Symphony No 5 in D major L’Allegro ed il Pensieroso, op 56. The Travelling Companion: opera in four acts, op 146.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). A London Symphony.

Alfred M Wall (1875 – ????). Quartet for Piano & Strings in C minor.

William Walton (1902-1983). Piano Quartet in A minor.

Peter Warlock (1894-1930). The Curlew: song cycle for tenor solo, flute, English horn, and string quartet.

Felix Harold White (1884-1945). The Nymph’s Complaint: poem for oboe (or violin), viola & piano.

W G Whittaker (1876-1944). A Lyke-Wake Dirge: for chorus and orchestra. Among the Northumbrian Hills: free variations on an original theme for piano and string quartet.

Stanley Wilson (1899-1953). A Skye Symphony, op 38.

Leslie Woodgate (1902-1961). A Hymn to the Virgin: for baritone solo, men’s voices, strings, piano and organ.

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reachWhen I was having piano lessons while a young boy I remember having to tackle John Ireland’s The Holy Boy. Unlikely as it seems, this was my first real introduction to extended harmony. At first I found the (very mild) clashes puzzling and ugly, but soon I became acclimatized. Now I find Ireland’s impressionist harmony strikes just the level of ambiguity to be intriguing. I love, for instance, the piano accompaniment, especially the introduction, to his setting of A E Houseman’s “The Lent Lily” (from the cycle The Land of Lost Content).

Another example is “Chelsea Reach” from the Three London Pieces, a gentle ramble in lilting six eight time that moves mostly in rich block chords. The level of dissonance ebbs and flows in a carefully controlled way: for instance the first three bars have no accidentals, but they are introduced in the next three bars and intensify in the following three. The intensity peaks at bar nine (where the melody also reaches its highest point) and from there it returns to straightforward harmony and a return to the home key of Ab (at bar 10). The rhythm is equally controlled, mostly sticking to regular quavers, but breaking out just occasionally into more dance-like dotted rhythms.

Ireland loved London. “Chelsea Reach” (the title refers to the Thames embankment near Battersea Bridge and Cheyne Walk, well known for its colourful houseboats) was written at his studio in 14 Gunter Grove, Chelsea, where he lived from 1915 until the traffic noise finally drove him out in 1953. Ireland himself played the first public performance at the Aeolean Hall in London on 7 June, 1918.

lads

A beautiful, understated song (it’s No 5 from Six Songs From A Shropshire Lad). I’ve been learning this in preparation for my choral audition later in April. I thought I knew it until I started learning it for performance. The subtle fluidity of the alternating 6/8 and 9/8 bars – same first and last verse, different for 2 and 3 – is excellent, and can catch you out, but it serves to emphasize key words in the text. The text unfolds its meaning slowly and on many levels – and recognizing that can help with the interpretation. The “lads” are soldiers soon to go to war, and the poet wonders how to identify those in the crowd who “will die in their glory and never grow old”. Butterworth himself died in the Great War in 1916. My favorite bit is at the very end, where the piano hits the highest note throughout the piece, a real moment of tension released and yearning – but we never get to that bit in our singing lessons. But I have to practice the technique a lot this week – particularly glottal stops and breathing – and memorise the words so that I can focus on the phrasing.