Author Topic: Robert Still(1910-71)  (Read 1744 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Robert Still(1910-71)
« on: January 21, 2012, 08:32:20 AM »
 I would try to bring back the name of the British composer Robert Still.

Still enjoys the distinction of being, along with Sir Hubert Parry, one of the few Old Etonian composers (the conductor Edward Gardner also attended Britain's most famous public school :))). After studying at Oxford University and the Royal College of Music under Gordon Jacob, Still taught music at Eton for a few years and after that, devoted himself to composition. He died suddenly aged 60 in 1971.

Still wrote four symphonies: the First was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 1956, the Second has never been performed. The Third and Fourth Symphonies were recorded and are on the same Lyrita cd as Humphrey Searle's Second. The Third is conducted by Sir Eugene Goossens who gave the work its first performance in March 1962 and recorded it only a few months later. Goossens was desperately ill at the time and died less than a month after conducting the recording. Although advised to rest, Goossens, who admired Still's work, was determined to continue to work. (You will recall that Goossens never recovered from the disgrace he had suffered when he was dismissed from his post as Principal Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1956.)

The Fourth Symphony(originally called 'Sinfonia') is conducted on the Lyrita cd by that great advocate of British music Myer Fredman.

Still wrote a Piano Concerto(1969) and a Violin Concerto(1970) shortly before his own death but neither has ever been heard. The Concerto for Strings and the Elegie for baritone, chorus and small orchestra were both on Decca LPs but have never been released on cd.

Many of the performances and, I understand, recordings of his music were financed by Still himself.

There is an excellent website devoted to Robert Still-

which I strongly commend to your attention and which provides a very considerable body of information about the composer's life and work.

What does Still's music sound like?  It is tonal and  'conservative'. On the evidence of the music I have heard I would not rate Still a 'great' composer. The music is well-constructed and attractive and the use of dissonance marks it out as, say, akin to the Richard Arnell 6th Symphony. Perhaps the music lacks that last element of memorability-certainly compared to the quite superb Searle 2nd- that may distinguish it from that of greater figures but it certainly does not deserve its current neglect.


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Re: Robert Still(1910-71)
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2012, 08:42:55 AM »
The Lyrita issue with the 3rd and 4th Symphonies were also issued on a Musical Heritage Society LP no.1482, but I havenĀ“t digged into my copy yet ...