Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 167668 times)

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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #980 on: September 23, 2021, 01:32:57 PM »


Two more, Ireland's Concerto Pastorale and a particular favourite, Capriol Suite by Warlock.

 :-[ How could I have forgotten those two!

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #981 on: September 23, 2021, 10:59:32 PM »
If you include the string quartet format there was a huge amount of transcribing/publishing of "editions".  Often aimed at the amateur/educational market these would be arrangements of Bach/Handel/Boyce/ etc but I don't see this as an especially British field.  My interest is in British music and composers so I am aware of mainly that strand of arranging but I don't think it is by any means unique.  In the UK my best guess is that the heyday was inter-War with it leaking into post-war when ensembles like Boyd Neal provided a vehicle/inspiration for composers.  Yes it is still common - look no further than relatively recent arrangements of Elgar (Organ Sonata and String Quartet) or Arnold (2nd Quartet) for string orchestra.  The Orchestra of the Swan seem very active at creating new repertoire generally......

Could the reason be simply so many orchestra members perished in the Great War? A greater pool of string players and composers of the period adjusted accordingly.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #982 on: September 24, 2021, 12:26:53 AM »
Could the reason be simply so many orchestra members perished in the Great War? A greater pool of string players and composers of the period adjusted accordingly.

Its a thought although I'm not sure I've ever read anywhere how many musicians died during WWI.  My sense about demand for these kind of string arrangements in the UK at least was the strong upsurge in amateur and educational need.  Several publishers made their bread and butter on the back of serving this market whether it was choral (Novellos), string (Cramers) or general domestic piano (too many publishers to mention - most long gone.....).  One of the things I love about the old original editions is the list of other works - often long forgotten - that you see on the back covers of pieces/scores.  I've discovered quite a few works I'd never heard of precisely because of those tantalising listings.....

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #983 on: September 24, 2021, 02:47:30 PM »
Gerald Finzi ran the Newbury String Players, which in time became a very good amateur orchestra. But it does show the advantage of the string orchestra format because they had a basic string repertoire (which btw never included Finzi’s own compositions in that format during his lifetime) but provided variety in their programs with concertante works with guest professional soloists.

Online vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #984 on: October 10, 2021, 10:45:42 PM »
I was reading a review yesterday which suggested that there are only 6 Great British symphonies, which are:

Both Elgar symphonies (1 and 2). The middle three (4,5,6) by Vaughan Williams and Walton's First symphony.

Any views on this?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #985 on: October 10, 2021, 11:59:24 PM »
I was reading a review yesterday which suggested that there are only 6 Great British symphonies, which are:

Both Elgar symphonies (1 and 2). The middle three (4,5,6) by Vaughan Williams and Walton's First symphony.

Any views on this?

Interesting question, Jeffrey.

I can come up with a list as long as your arm, but they are only great in my world. Universally great is something else altogether. With that in mind, without a shadow of doubt I would expand RVW to include 2, 3, & 8 also Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem maybe. 
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Online Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #986 on: October 11, 2021, 04:05:29 AM »
I would also include those other Vaughan Williams' ones.

Must admit,  I haven't listened to Elgar's symphonies nor Walton's in eons....sorry!  Trying to remember too as to when I've heard them played on my local NPR station?

By the way Jeffrey, where did you see that article?

PD

Offline krummholz

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #987 on: October 11, 2021, 04:49:12 AM »
I was reading a review yesterday which suggested that there are only 6 Great British symphonies, which are:

Both Elgar symphonies (1 and 2). The middle three (4,5,6) by Vaughan Williams and Walton's First symphony.

Any views on this?

Gosh, I can think of several of Brian's symphonies that I'd include as well - certainly the Gothic if none of the others! I'd probably include at least Simpson's 5th and 9th as well, maybe the 10th too.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #988 on: October 11, 2021, 05:32:08 AM »
I was reading a review yesterday which suggested that there are only 6 Great British symphonies, which are:

Both Elgar symphonies (1 and 2). The middle three (4,5,6) by Vaughan Williams and Walton's First symphony.

Any views on this?

Greatness is something difficult to measure. Great in inventiveness? Originality? Tunefulness and pathos? Musical structure and mastery of form? Influence on other composers? Longevity and enduring popularity that surpasses the zeitgeist? Recognition amongst peers or musicologists? These are just a few measures - doubtless I have missed some.

Greatness is too nebulous to quantify in simple terms. On a personal level, there is no way one could convince me that symphonists such as Bax, Arnold, Tippett, RVW, Rubbra, Brian and Elgar are not great in one or more of these categories. I don't know Walton or Britten well enough. I'm also certain that others with whom I am unfamiliar or have not yet been fully evaluated meet these criteria.
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Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #989 on: October 11, 2021, 08:49:15 AM »
Greatness is something difficult to measure. Great in inventiveness? Originality? Tunefulness and pathos? Musical structure and mastery of form? Influence on other composers? Longevity and enduring popularity that surpasses the zeitgeist? Recognition amongst peers or musicologists? These are just a few measures - doubtless I have missed some.

Greatness is too nebulous to quantify in simple terms. On a personal level, there is no way one could convince me that symphonists such as Bax, Arnold, Tippett, RVW, Rubbra, Brian and Elgar are not great in one or more of these categories. I don't know Walton or Britten well enough. I'm also certain that others with whom I am unfamiliar or have not yet been fully evaluated meet these criteria.

I think the key word and one you use is "recognition". A Brian symphony may be as good as either the two by Elgar but the musical world and beyond is familiar of Elgar's. The passing of time seems pretty good at separating the wheat from the chaff. 
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #990 on: October 11, 2021, 10:11:47 AM »
Greatness is something difficult to measure. Great in inventiveness? Originality? Tunefulness and pathos? Musical structure and mastery of form? Influence on other composers? Longevity and enduring popularity that surpasses the zeitgeist? Recognition amongst peers or musicologists? These are just a few measures - doubtless I have missed some.

Greatness is too nebulous to quantify in simple terms.

Exactly - an overused label that has a "meaning" that nobody can quite define.  I suspect in this context it means some degree of international impact.  Whoever wrote that review really should know better and not bandy around that kind of empty statement.

Online vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #991 on: October 11, 2021, 11:39:18 AM »
I would also include those other Vaughan Williams' ones.

Must admit,  I haven't listened to Elgar's symphonies nor Walton's in eons....sorry!  Trying to remember too as to when I've heard them played on my local NPR station?

By the way Jeffrey, where did you see that article?

PD
Can't remember PD. Probably on Musicweb somewhere.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Online vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #992 on: October 11, 2021, 11:58:03 AM »
Thanks all for the interesting replies. I think that RS might be right when he refers to international reputation as the arbiter of 'greatness'. I know that I was surprised c. 18 years ago when I went into a record shop in Kitzbuhel in Austria to find a large section devoted to Britten's music and none to Vaughan Williams.
I don't really disagree with the list of 6, although I consider many others to be great (all the other VW symphonies for starters). For those who don't know it I strongly recommend listening to Walton's First Symphony. Symphonies by Bax, Arnold, Moeran, Bate, Rubbra, Arnell and Brian would also feature on my own personal list of great British symphonies.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Online Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #993 on: October 11, 2021, 12:08:55 PM »
Can't remember PD. Probably on Musicweb somewhere.
Thanks!  I should revisit the Elgar and Walton.  Brian I've heard of over the years--particularly re his Gothic.  For what it's worth, I regularly hear various Vaughan Williams symphonies played over the radio (locally) though, by my recollection, it's normally either the second, third, or fifth.  Can't remember hearing ones like his fourth, sixth, Scott or the ninth sadly.  Could just be that I've missed running across them when I had turned on the radio?  They do also play a number of other works by him too.

PD

Online vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #994 on: October 11, 2021, 01:50:33 PM »
Thanks!  I should revisit the Elgar and Walton.  Brian I've heard of over the years--particularly re his Gothic.  For what it's worth, I regularly hear various Vaughan Williams symphonies played over the radio (locally) though, by my recollection, it's normally either the second, third, or fifth.  Can't remember hearing ones like his fourth, sixth, Scott or the ninth sadly.  Could just be that I've missed running across them when I had turned on the radio?  They do also play a number of other works by him too.

PD
Good to know PD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #995 on: October 11, 2021, 02:10:13 PM »
I was reading a review yesterday which suggested that there are only 6 Great British symphonies, which are:

Both Elgar symphonies (1 and 2). The middle three (4,5,6) by Vaughan Williams and Walton's First symphony.

Any views on this?

I'm sure it's wrong 8) ... But there's a lot of material to investigate in depth - probably at least 200 relevant symphonies, say post-1800, have been recorded ...

EDIT: Found a list. And it's long ... http://www.musicweb-international.com/Ntl_discogs/British_symphonies/British_symphonies.htm
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 02:16:52 PM by MusicTurner »

Online vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #996 on: October 11, 2021, 02:37:06 PM »
I'm sure it's wrong 8) ... But there's a lot of material to investigate in depth - probably at least 200 relevant symphonies, say post-1800, have been recorded ...

EDIT: Found a list. And it's long ... http://www.musicweb-international.com/Ntl_discogs/British_symphonies/British_symphonies.htm

All four depicted are favourites (Bainton's moving, last-ditch 3rd Symphony - not Rutland Boughton's tedious 'Oliver Cromwell Symphony').
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Maestro267

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #997 on: October 11, 2021, 11:28:43 PM »
A fascinating resource, thanks for sharing!

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #998 on: October 12, 2021, 04:21:34 AM »
Thanks all for the interesting replies. I think that RS might be right when he refers to international reputation as the arbiter of 'greatness'.

I confess to finding this interesting, but a less than helpful measure if this is the criterion from the original article that you were reading. I would be far more comfortable with some of the other measures, I think. Leaving 'greatness' to international reputation is far too limited, in my book. Doubtless in yours, too. Far too many stunning and significant works get omitted, that way.

Who knows? Certainly not me, I guess.

As usual, I concur with your choices, and would add a raft of my own selection of symphonists that I haven't even mentioned so far.
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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #999 on: October 12, 2021, 04:25:49 AM »
Any views on this?

I agree with that.  I don't know why everyone is so upset by that, it doesn't seem controversial to me.  That is not to say there is not a lot of excellent British symphonies, there are.  But you're looking at one nation, over only one era, over only one genre.  If you set aside your nationalism for a second (and this is directed at everyone on the thread), you'll see that is not meant to be an attack.  British neoromanticism just doesn't have the appeal outside of the UK as it does within it.  And I really like Arnold, Bax, Britten, Simpson etc.  I'm not saying this because I personally don't see the appeal, I do.

I don't see the point of a canon if any listener would have their feelings hurt if their favorite composer was not included.