Monday, 25 June 2012

An Appreciation of Charles Villiers Stanford by Samuel Liddle

I had the privilege of three years' lessons from Stanford, at the Royal College, having been lucky enough to gain a scholarship. He seemed to know at once what treatment was good for me, and I certainly got it from him. I was ‘for it’ from the beginning, and my first year with him was not a bed of roses. There was no softness in his methods with me, and he was right. A few effective sentences of criticism, startling in their candour and absolutely unanswerable; a few enlightening sarcasms, followed by a few hints on methods of study, and he handed me back my work with his usual smile (!) and an invitation to ‘Tear it up, my boy, it's no use!’ Towards the end of my first year with him, I came to the end of my tether. I was working like a slave (too hard, in fact), and one day my disappointment at my failure to satisfy him made me entirely forget myself, and my tongue (hitherto tied) suddenly went berserk. He didn't say anything-just looked at me a moment and then went out of the room. He came back presently and said: ‘Go down to Sir George Grove.’ I went, and Sir George said to me: ‘Oh! Liddle, Dr. Stanford says you need a holiday- you've been working too hard. He says you ought to go to the sea for a week. Here's some money-off you go.’ It certainly was what I wanted, and, curiously enough, from that day the clouds lifted, and my next two years with him were a joy and I finished top of the class. But, I should never have done anything in music worth doing if I hadn't been with him. He gave me exactly what I wanted and I became absolutely devoted to him, for as time went on I experienced kindness after kindness from him, invaluable help and advice. He had been friend as well as teacher from the beginning, but it took me a year to find it out. S. LIDDLE [1]
Music & Letters July 1924 (with minor edits)

[1] Samuel Liddle (1867-1951) was born in Leeds. After experience as a church organise, he went to study with Stanford at the Royal College of Music.  As a pianist, he accompanied many great names from the early twentieth century, including Clara Butt, Ada Crossley, the cellist W.H. Squire and Plunkett Greene.  Philip Scowcroft has noted a number of Liddle’s compositions and these include an Elegy for cello and piano, possibly for Squire and a number of songs of the ballad type Scowcroft writes, ‘best-known of these were Abide With Me, often sung by Butt, How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings, The Lord is My Shepherd, Like as the Hart, Arabic Love Song, Sung by John McCormack, A Farewell and an arrangement of The Garden Where the Praties Grow’ Other of his ballad titles included A Farewell, At Last, Home Song, Lovely Kind and Kindly Loving, My Lute, The Gay Gordons and The Young Royalist; there were also slightly more upmarket compositions such as the Seven Old English Lyrics and the duet Now is the Month of Maying.’
[2] Sir Charles Grove (1820-1900) Civil Engineer, Secretary to the Society of Arts (1850), Crystal Place. He revolutionised the writing of analytical programme notes. In 1883, he became the first director of the royal College of Music. Between 1879 and 1889, he published the first editions of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians

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