Tuesday, 29 July 2008

George Dyson : Siena Overture

Further to my comments in a recent post about the poor review given George Dyson’s Siena tone poem by the critic Ernest Newman, I have subsequently found two notices that are largely complimentary.

The Times[1] reviewer had been in attendance at the eighth of Mr. S. Ernest Palmer’s Patron’s Fund Concerts at the Queen’s Hall on Thursday 11 July, 1907. The London Symphony Orchestra that evening was conducted by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. The programme consisted of two new vocal works and three orchestral novelties-along with Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.
He wrote about the Dyson: “The other [work] was a suite by Mr. George Dyson suggested by the ‘Palio’ race at Siena and was something in the nature of a small symphonic poem in three continuous movements. It is a frank, healthy piece of writing, for Mr Dyson is outspoken and not in the least afraid of being noisy when he wants or of using old tricks of Tchaikovsky and Elgar for working up a climax; and if the waltz at the end is rather commonplace, at any rate it shows, like everything else in the piece, that the composer has the courage of his convictions.”

The Musical Times[2] is also reasonably enthusiastic: the reviewer wrote “A suite, descriptive of the race for the ‘Palio’ or standard which takes place at Siena on the Feast of the Assumption, seemed to suggest rampant realism; but the aim of the composer, Mr. George Dyson was on a higher plane, and the music itself was interesting.”

The other works in the concert were a Concert Overture by Walter E. Lawrence and a Symphonic Scherzo by Montague F. Phillips, Thomas Dunhill’s Shelley Scene for Contralto “To the Night” and finally Frederick W Wadely’s setting of the same poet's “A widow bird sate mourning.”

It remains for me to track down the Ernest Newman vilification, which caused the composer to reportedly destroy the score and parts for Siena. If and when I locate this, I shall report back on this blog.

[1] The Times 12th July 1907
[2] The Musical Times 1st August 1907

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