Author Topic: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)  (Read 22867 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« on: September 13, 2011, 04:18:58 PM »
(Having gone through Sara's splendid Index of Composer Threads I have identified 65 composers who have no thread devoted to them and whose music I admire. So, on the basis of trying to add one every or most days ;D ;D......)

Stanley Bate was one of the more tragic figures of mid 20th century British music. He grew up in Plymouth and showed precocious talent as a very young man. Bate studied at the Royal College of Music in London as a pupil of Vaughan Williams, Gordon Jacob and Arthur Benjamin. He then went to Europe to study under Hindemith and Nadia Boulanger.

Bate married the Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks and travelled with her to the USA and Australia. In common with a number of other British composers(Benjamin Britten and Richard Arnell spring to mind) Bate was in the USA when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Like Arnell Bate had considerable success during the period from 1940 onwards in having his music played in the US, conducted (as was Arnell's) by eminent conductors including Sir Thomas Beecham.

Bate was divorced from Peggy Glanville-Hicks in 1948 and subsequently married a Brazilian diplomat. He returned to Britain in 1949 but-again the parallel with Arnell is remarkable-found that his absence from his native country for so long had done him no favours. He enjoyed a brief period of exposure when his Third Symphony was performed at the Cheltenham Festival in 1954 conducted by Barbirolli but his last few years were extraordinarily sad. He continued to compose-almost frantically it seemed-but his lifestyle became increasingly chaotic. Bate died at the age of 47-of utter exhaustion or alcohol abuse(or indeed both).

In total Bate composed four symphonies, of which Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are extant, five piano concertos(the fifth unfinished), one double piano concerto, three violin concertos and concertos for viola, for cello and for harpsichord.

For many years a substantial number of British music lovers have been asking and hoping for an opportunity to hear some of Bate's music. At last that opportunity has been granted with the recent release by that wonderful company Dutton of three cds containing respectively the Third Symphony, the Fourth Symphony and the Viola Concerto.

To my mind these cds have been a revelation. Yes, it is true that Bate was to a considerable degree in thrall to his teacher Vaughan Williams...but there is no real harm in that :)
The symphonies are hugely impressive works and have received very favourable reviews in the music press in this country. They are grand, thrilling, sometimes quite angry works which combine the influences of RVW, Hindemith, Shostakovich and some of the American symphonists Bate must have been familiar with during his sojurn in the States(Harris, Piston, Schuman, for example). The Viola Concerto is (hugely) influenced by RVW but a quite superb work in its own right, beautiful and moving in my estimation.

My (reasonably well-informed) guess is that Dutton do intend to give us some of the other concertos and they should be well worth hearing in due course.

There is a very detailed and highly informative article about this splendid, previously almost completely forgotten composer and his tragically short life here-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/bate/index.htm

...and I commend this article to anyone interested in exploring the music. I can assure a number of members here with whose musical tastes I am familiar that they will almost certainly be very impressed by Stanley Bate if they have not already encountered the music.

Offline Albion

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 09:11:47 PM »
I'll second this enthusiastic endorsement of Stanley Bate, and also echo the hope that Dutton continue to explore the music of this composer particularly focussing on the remaining concertos. In the meantime, there are recordings of the 2nd and 3rd Piano Concertos over at Unsung Composers - admittedly not the most hi-fi quality but very valuable in allowing us to hear the composer himself as the virtuosic soloist -

Piano Concerto No.2, Op.28 (1947)~
Stanley Bate, piano/ BBC SO/ Stanford Robinson (br. date unknown)

Piano Concerto No.3, Op.67 (1951-52)~
Stanley Bate, piano/ Oklahoma City SO/ Guy Fraser Harrison (4/2/1958)

 ;D
A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 11:31:35 PM »
I'm intrigued by the 4th symphony (and indeed everything else), given the varied comments I have read on it - raging from not as impressive as the 3rd, to more so, but in an enigmatic way. I really like the 3rd - I don't find it to be an especially deep work - more a sum of its influences - but Bate synthesises these into its own voice quite beautifully and structurally it is perfect. It's a piece of music that many may find redundant, but its mastery of execution and the composer's evident earnestness to write a "big" work really pay off over its grand sweep. As of yet the 3rd is the only Bate I have heard, though.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 06:03:27 AM »
Thanks for that interesting background story, Colin. I have listened to symphonies 3 and 4. They are clear, well-made and very accessible, but didn't make too much of an impression. It could have been me, though. So I'll give them a second chance soon...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 06:22:10 AM »
Not as deep as William Mathias symphonies! ;D

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 07:25:34 AM »
Not as deep as William Mathias symphonies! ;D

Go on then....you know what to do ;D ;D

Online vandermolen

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 10:18:17 AM »
The Dutton CD with Bate's Third Symphony and Chisholm's 'Picures from Dante' is one of my very favourite CDs. Bate's stormy Third Symphony, with its defiant ending is a terrific score as his Symphony No 4. He had quite a tragic life by the sound of it. I admire these symphonies enormously.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 10:40:44 AM »
The Dutton CD with Bate's Third Symphony and Chisholm's 'Picures from Dante' is one of my very favourite CDs. Bate's stormy Third Symphony, with its defiant ending is a terrific score as his Symphony No 4. He had quite a tragic life by the sound of it. I admire these symphonies enormously.

I forget if I told you, but your constant recommending of that disc eventually prompted me to ask for it as a christmas present. The Chisholm is wonderful too, I agree.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 11:00:37 AM »
I'll give that Bate, Chisholm and Arnell CD a fresh listen when I am in a receptive mood...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 11:07:16 AM »
I'm biased towards that glassy, anemic neoclassical stuff though ;D
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 11:16:03 AM »
I was very enthusiastic at first,even to the extent of trying to persuade Chandos to record some Bate (they say they're interested). However,the last time I played these cds I found my enthusiasm had cooled. They are certainly worth hearing. Vaughan williams with a shot of Walton,I thought. The fourth in particular is very tightly argued and at times tightly scored. Yet,somehow there is nothing that really stays in the mind,afterwards. Bate has his own voice there,somewhere,and I will certainly consider buying any new cds that Dutton (or Chandos,if they do?) come out,but there is a lack of genuinely memorable themes. Having said that,the third is still quite a find,though & I am definately looking forward to listening to some of his piano concertos.
I shall have another go. Whatever reservations I have,I do think Bate's music deserves reassessment and his own thread.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:26:47 AM by cilgwyn »

Online vandermolen

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 11:16:49 AM »
I forget if I told you, but your constant recommending of that disc eventually prompted me to ask for it as a christmas present. The Chisholm is wonderful too, I agree.

I'm delighted that you enjoyed the CD. I think that the Bate and Chisholm works are something special and Bate's 4th did not disappoint me either. I do find the themes memorable - especially in Bate's Third Symphony. Arnell's 3rd, 4th and 5th were the other great Dutton discoveries for me alongside Arthur Butterworth's very sibelian 4th Symphony and this year it has been David Matthews's Symphony No 6.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:20:49 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 11:20:03 AM »
Incidentally,regarding his death.Was it drink,lack of sleep or suicide?!!!!
I know what it says on Musicweb,but I have heard/seen various versions of Bates demise.

NB: I still haven't quite made my mind up. I shall put Bate on next. He's definately got something!
NB2: I hope Chandos DO record Stanley Bate & not more York bloomin' Bowen! ::)
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:29:35 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2011, 11:32:28 AM »
Gimmie a    B
Gimmie a    O
Gimmie a    W

Gi.. okay I'll go
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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2011, 11:35:01 AM »
 :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2011, 11:46:38 AM »
Relistening to Bate's 3rd and am reminded why I like it. I agree, it doesn't have memorable tunes, but it's the drive and earnest quality that pulls me in - I feel that Walton is a particularly great debt here. But where Walton's music was so refined as to sound much more effortless than it must have been to write, Bate's hard work and cut-corners are more audible. It's this perceptable raggedness at times fueling the forward drive opposed to any great sophistication that really appeals to me. This genre of music often sounds so film-ready, but the piece is too rugged and almost feral at times to mistake it for anything other than a real stab at writing meaningful music. It wasn't a fully successful attempt, but the obvious effort makes it a greater work than if it were a mere composerly exercise. I believe some wit or other called Busoni a genius without talent, and this might apply a little bit here.

Edit: goth, it's so condensed too. Despite being a little spare on material, it rockets by.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:51:30 AM by Lethe Dmitriyevich Pettersson »
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2011, 11:51:21 AM »
Relistening to Bate's 3rd and am reminded why I like it. I agree, it doesn't have memorable tunes, but it's the drive and earnest quality that pulls me in - I feel that Walton is a particularly great debt here. But where Walton's music was so refined as to sound much more effortless than it must have been to write, Bate's hard work and cut-corners are more audible. It's this perceptable raggedness at times fueling the forward drive opposed to any great sophistication that really appeals to me. This genre of music often sounds so film-ready, but the piece is too rugged and almost feral at times to mistake it for anything other than a real stab at writing meaningful music. It wasn't a fully successful attempt, but the obvious effort makes it a greater work than if it were a mere composerly exercise. I believe some wit or other called Busoni a genius without talent, and this might apply a little bit here.
This is a very eloquent and perceptive analysis of the appeal of Bate's Third Symphony - I entirely agree with you.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2011, 12:27:52 PM »
I love that 'jazzy'/syncopated (I'm just a listener) in the finale. Now,that IS memorable. Don't get me wrong,I DO like this symphony.

STOP PRESS: Found the 3 Bate cds at last. R Schumanns going off,now to play 'em!
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 01:22:35 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2011, 12:29:29 PM »
So far,this thread has had more posts than Cyril Scott had hot dinners! Ok,Stanley Bate 3rd is on now. I have a bad feeling I'm going to be eating humble pie,soon! :-[ First bars now. Yep,I was right,it grabs you straight away! Off to eat humble pie now.
Back later after meal of very fine,undeservedly neglected British symphony!
Thank you so much.

PS: While looking for Bate cds found lost stash of cds of Welsh composer beginning with W and ending with S. Reserve meal of fine threadless Whitland born composer for later.

I am on the Bate Fourth now. What a wonderful symphony,full of brooding power. I actually pre-ordered all three of these cds from the Dutton site. The last time I listened to these I must have been in the wrong mood.
Silly me!
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 01:22:15 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Stanley Bate(1911-1959)
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2011, 03:42:21 PM »
The great value of a forum like this is that members may be encouraged to go back, re-listen to and re-evaluate music which they had decided was perhaps not quite as good as a further listening demonstrates :)

Who knows.....if I listen to York Bowen often enough........... ;D ;D ;D

 

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