Friday, 4 January 2013

1963-2013 – Great British Music reaching their Half-Centenary

1963 was an impressive a year for new works by a whole variety of composers.  Havergal Brian, aged 87 presented his 21st Symphony to the world. It is hard to believe that there were still another 11 to come before the composer’s death in 1973.  A sprightly Arthur Bliss (72) was composing important works including the Belmont Variations for Brass Band.  Amongst the older (middle aged!) generation of composers still active were Gordon Jacob, Roberto Gerhard and Alan Bush.  Gerhard produced his great choral work The Plague in this year.
Still in their 50s composers such as Alan Rawsthorne and Arnold Cooke were composing approachable, if challenging music; however 12-tone Lizzie (Elisabeth Lutyens) was producing a large quantity of more ‘difficult’ works.
A number of these composers are still active: these include Gordon Crosse, Peter Maxwell Davies, Peter Dickinson, Bryan Ferneyhough, Alexander Goehr, John McCabe, Thea Musgrave and John Tavener.
Many thanks to the Eric Gilder and his indispensible Dictionary of Composers and their Music. I have simply presented this list in alphabetical (by surname) order rather that chronological (by composer’s age). Please note that 1963 may be the date the work was composed, completed or received its first performance.

Richard Arnell: Musica Pacifica, for orchestra
Malcolm Arnold: Little Suite for Orchestra No 2 
David Bedford: Piece for Mo, for instrumental ensemble; Two Poems, for chorus
Lennox Berkeley: Four Ronsard Sonnets, for tenor and orchestra; Justorum Animae, for mixed choir
Arthur Bliss: Belmont Variations, for brass band; A Knot of Riddles, for baritone and eleven instruments; Mary of Magdala, cantata
Havergal Brian: Symphony No 21
Benjamin Britten: Symphony for cello and orchestra; Cantata misericordium, for tenor, baritone, string quartet, string orchestra, piano, harp and timpani; Nocturnal, after John Dowland, for guitar
Alan Bush: Prelude, Air and Dance for violin, string quartet and percussion (1963-4)
George Bush: Wind Quintet
Arnold Cooke: ‘The Lord at First did Adam Make’, for chorus; ‘The Country of the Stars’: motet
Gordon Crosse: ‘Meet My Folk’, for children's chorus and instruments; Ceremony, for cello and orchestra; Violin Concerto
Peter Maxwell Davies: Veni Sancte Spiritus, for soli, chorus and small orchestra
Peter Dickinson: Motets
Bryan Ferneyhough: Sonatina for three clarinets and bassoon
Peter Racine Fricker: ‘O longs desires’, five songs for soprano and orchestra
Roberto Gerhard: The Plague, for speaker, chorus and orchestra (1963-4)
Hymnody, for eleven players
Alexander Goehr: Little Symphony; Little Music for Strings; Virtutes, cycle of songs and melodramas for chorus, piano duet and percussion
Iain Hamilton: Sonatas and Variants, for ten wind instruments
Nocturnes with Cadenza, for piano 
Alun Hoddinott: Sinfonia for string orchestra [fp] Divertimento for oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon [fp]
Herbert Howells: Stabat Mater, cantata
Gordon Jacob: Suite for brass band 
Wilfred Josephs: Pathelin, opera-entertainment; Chacony for violin and piano; Piano Sonata; Requiem, for baritone, double chorus, string quintet and orchestra
Four Chinese Lyrics, for two voices and piano or guitar
Elisabeth Lutyens: Music for Orchestra III; Encomion, for chorus, brass and percussion; String Quintet; Fantasie Trio, for flute, clarinet and piano; Wind Trio;
Presages, for solo oboe
John McCabe: Variations for Piano; Three Folk Songs for high voice and piano
Elizabeth Maconchy: Serenata Concertante for violin and orchestra; Samson and the Gates of Gaza, cantata (1963-4)
William Mathias: Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon
Nicolas Maw: Round for children's choir, mixed choir and piano; The Angel Gabriel, for unaccompanied voices
Thea Musgrave: The Five Ages of Man, for chorus and orchestra
Alan Rawsthorne : Carmen Vitale, for soprano, chorus and orchestra
John Tavener: Three Sections, from T. S. Eliot's The Four Quartets, for tenor and piano (1963-4)
William Walton: Variations on a Theme of Hindemith, for orchestra
Malcolm Williamson: Our Man in Havana, opera; Elevamini Symphony

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