Author Topic: Graham Whettam(1927-2007)  (Read 4030 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Graham Whettam(1927-2007)
« on: August 22, 2007, 03:57:50 PM »
I understand that the English composer Graham Whettam died a few days ago at the age of 79. Few of you may know his name because he was one of this British composers very much out of fashion from the 1960s onwards and largely ignored by the critical establishment. There are however 2 CDs that I am aware of which contain examples of his orchestral music-both on the Redcliffe Recordings label(may be tricky to obtain!). The first CD contains his big Sinfonia Intrepida(the 2nd symphony) in a BBC studio recording by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras no less. The second CD has his Sinfonia contra timore(his 1st symphony) performed by the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra under Gunter Blumhagen in a 1975 radio recording and the Concerto Drammatico for cello and orchestra with Martin Rummel as soloist and the Sinfonia da Camara, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois under Ian Hobson.

There are good reviews of both CDs to be found on the net. These reviews make appropriate comparisons with the music of Shostakovich and Robert Simpson. The symphonies are grim, grantitic and angry works but the Sinfonia Intrepida in particular I found most impressive. Whettam was a bit of an 'outsider'. He certainly resented the neglect from which he suffered and established his own publishing company(Meriden Music). He was passionately anti-war and dedicated the Sinfonia contra timore to Bertrand Russell, the eminent philosopher and supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. This, apparently, led to the cancellation of the work's planned premiere in Liverpool and to the BBC banning performances!

I have no idea whether any other members of this site have even heard of Whettam but I thought that the death of such a sincere and serious composer merited a thread of appreciation.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Graham Whettam(1927-2007)
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 04:05:56 PM »
I have no idea whether any other members of this site have even heard of Whettam but I thought that the death of such a sincere and serious composer merited a thread of appreciation.

Thanks, Dundonnell, for posting this.  I saw the news of his death a few days ago and thought, Yet someone else whose work is totally unfamiliar to me. 

I looked at the list of his works (in addition to those you mention) and he's written quite a lot.  That Mackerras recording sounds like one worth seeking out.

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Offline Nunc Dimittis

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Re: Graham Whettam(1927-2007)
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 08:46:41 AM »
I have the two CDs mentioned and like them both.  I also heard a recording ages ago of a piece for string orchestra – do not remember the name of the work.  I have been searching for a copy of the LP. The comparisons to Shostakovitch and Simpson are apt.  Those who like the music of Pettersson should also like Whettam’s music.
"[Er] lernte Neues auf jedem Schritt seines Weges, denn die Welt war verwandelt, und sein Herz war bezaubert." - Hesse