Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Promenade Concert British Novelties for 1910

Each year I look back at the British music novelties that were played at the Promenade Concerts for both a century and a half-century ago. It always makes for fascinating reading for two reasons. Firstly there are the famous works that have survived the changes and chances of succeeding generations and secondly there are those works that seem to have fallen by the wayside. I guess that it this latter group that appeals to me most – the ‘what might have beens’ if you like. The problem is that with so many ‘novelties’ they received their first and possibly only performance at the Proms. It may be that the composers subsequently withdrew the scores or that time has taken its toll and all trace of the music has vanished except for the occasional review in contemporary newspapers and musical journals.
Ernest Austin: Variations for string orchestra ‘The Vicar of Bray’
Arnold Bax: In the Faery Hills – tone poem (Chandos and Naxos recordings available)
Ernest Bryson: Voices –a study for orchestra
Henry Walford Davies: Festal Overture in Bb
J.W. Hathaway: ‘Sunshine’ -a sketch for orchestra
William Hurlstone: The Magic Mirror –suite for orchestra (Lyrita recording available)
Easthope Martin: Two Eastern Dances for orchestra
Norman O’Neill: Four Dances from The Blue Bird (Dutton recording available) & see my earlier post
Percy Pitt: Serenade for small orchestra
H.V. Jarvis Read: Two Night Pieces for orchestra
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on English Folksong- studies for an English Ballad Opera
Out of the above 11 works only three have managed to survive to our generation. We are lucky to have a few recordings of the Bax work. And Lyrita have certainly championed William Hurlstone’s orchestral music. Norman O’Neill’s incidental music to The Blue Bird has survived tentatively through an historical recording by Dutton. All the other works remain unrecorded. The Vaughan Williams is unpublished and according to Michael Kennedy’s catalogue the score has been lost.

If I were able to revive just one work for this year’s Proms (apart from the RVW) it would have to be J.W. Hathaway’s ‘Sunshine’ –a sketch for orchestra, although I would love to hear all these works.
Next step is to have a look at the reviews...and then have a look at 1960!

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