Thursday, 23 September 2010

Where are the Survivors?: Works played at the 1960 Cheltenham Festival

I was reading the lists of music played at the Cheltenham Festivals that are published in Frank Howes' excellent short study. In particular I wondered how the ‘novelties’ or first performances from 1960 (fifty years ago) had fared over the years. The result alas is not too inspiring.
Alexander Goehr (1932- ): Four songs from the Japanese for voice & orchestra
Richard Rodney Bennett (1936- ): Five Pieces for Orchestra
Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960): Divertimento for wind quintet
Francis Burt (1926)-: Expressionale Orhcestrale, Op.10
Matyas Seiber (1905-1960): Sonata for violin & piano
R.W. Wood (?): Concert for piano and orchestra
Richard Drakeford (1936-2009): Oboe Quartet
Nicholas Maw (1935-2009): Six Chinese Songs and also Nocturne for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra
Fred. Turner (?): Suite for violin and piano
John Wilks (?): Divertimento for horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass
John Ogdon (1937-1989): Variations and Fugue for piano, Op.4
Peter Maxwell Davies (1934- ): Ricercar and Doubles on ‘To Many a Well’
Thea Musgrave (1928- ): Colloquy for violin and piano
Arthur Bliss (1891-1975): Ballads for the Four Seasons
Alan Rawsthorne (1905-1971): Sonata for violin and piano
Reginald Smith Brindle (1917-2003): Cosmos, four movements for orchestra
Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973): Symphony, Op33.

Some eighteen pieces were given their premieres from seventeen composers. Nicholas Maw having had two works heard for the first time. Out of these composers I can no details for Fred. Turner, John Wilks or R.W. Wood – perhaps they are still alive and composing? Nine of them have died, with two passing away in 2009. Thankfully, Alexander Goehr, Richard Rodney Bennett, Francis Burt, Peter Maxwell Davies and Thea Musgrave are still busy composing music.
However the pieces themselves have fared very badly. I based my assessment on their presence or otherwise in the CD catalogues- Crotchet and Arkiv.
I have located recordings of the Seiber Violin Sonata, two versions of the Rawsthorne Violin Sonata, one of Bliss’ Ballads for the Seasons and one of Benjamin Frankel’s Symphony, Op.33. The rest appear to have slipped into oblivion. Of course, I may have missed some recording somewhere or other: it would be great to hear that I had!! And of course any information about Messrs. Turner, Wilks and Wood would be of great interest.


Philip Lancaster said...

The Musgrave was available on an Argo LP, but alas it appears not to have been reissued.

Erik Johnson said...

Fred Turner was killed in a terrible fire in his flat in 2008. Here is the notice:

I have a private recording he made on 78's of his Suite for Violin and Piano, the very work you mentioned here, as well as the score.

Dr. G said...

Ralph Wallace Wood was born 31 May 1902 in London - probably the Plumstead region or in bordering Kent. He died sometime after December 13, 1976, as we have correspondence from him dated then.

We would appreciate any information on his death date should you find it.

Dr. Gary Galván, Curator
Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
+1 (215) 686-5313