Friday, 3 January 2014

1964-2014 – Great British Music reaching their Half-Centenary

1964 was another hugely impressive a year for new works by a whole variety of British and Commonwealth composers.  This ranges from the ‘elder statesman’, Havergal Brian, aged 87 who began his 22 Symphony and completed a Concerto for Orchestra and a Cello Concerto, to a very youthful Michael Finnissy presenting his ‘Song 6’ for ensemble. There was a wide variety of styles apparent, with contributions from the relatively conventional William Alwyn and Malcolm Arnold to the more experimental works of David Bedford and John Tavener. ‘The Manchester School’ of Alexander Goehr, Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies were also prolific. The young generation (under 25) were beginning to make their mark, with Michael Finnissy, Robin Holloway and the late John Tavener contributing important music. John McCabe seemed to have written a deal of music in this year, including the important Johannis-Partita, for organ.

Other senior composers still active in 1964 included Herbert Howells, Lennox Berkeley, Benjamin Britten, Benjamin Frankel, Daniel Jones, Elisabeth Lutyens, Alan Rawsthorne and Edmund Rubbra.
Most productive composers in this year seem to include Malcolm Williamson, John McCabe and Alun Hoddinott.  
Composers who are now largely forgotten (unjustly) include Iain Hamilton, Peter Racine Fricker, Don Banks and Wilfrid Josephs.
Fortunately a number of the names listed below are still active: Gordon Crosse, Harrison Birtwistle, David Blake, Peter Maxwell Davies, Michael Finnissy, Alexander Goehr, Robin Holloway, John Joubert, John McCabe and Thea Musgrave.

Many thanks to the Eric Gilder and his indispensable Dictionary of Composers and their Music. I have presented this list in alphabetical (by surname) order rather that chronological (by composer’s age). Please note that 1964 may be the date the work was composed, completed or received its first performance.

William Alwyn: Concerto Grosso No 3
Malcolm Arnold: Sinfonietta No 3 for strings and wind
Don Banks: Three Episodes, for flute and piano; Divisions, for orchestra; Choral Fantasy
David Bedford: A Dream of the Seven Lost Stars, for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble (1964-5)
Richard Rodney Bennett: The Mines of Sulphur, opera; Jazz Calendar, ballet; Aubade, for orchestra; String Quartet No 4; Nocturnes, for piano
Lennox Berkeley: Diversions, for eight instruments;
Harrison Birtwistle: Three Movements with Fanfares, for orchestra; Entr'actes and Sappho Fragments, for soprano and instruments; Description of the Passing of a Year, narration for mixed choir a cappella
David Blake: Three Choruses to poems by Robert Frost, for chorus
Havergal Brian: Cello Concerto; Concerto for Orchestra; Symphony No 22, Symphonia Brevis
Benjamin Britten: Cello Suite No 1; Curlew River, parable for church performance
Geoffrey Bush: Greek Love Songs
Peter Maxwell Davies: Seven In Nomine, for instrumental ensemble (1964-5); Second Fantasia on John Taverner's In Nomine, for orchestra; Shakespeare Music, for instrumental ensemble; Ave, Plena Gracia, for SATB with optional organ
Gordon Crosse: Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2
Michael Finnissy: Song 6, for ensemble (1964-5)FRANKEL (58) Symphony No 3
Peter Racine Fricker: Symphony No 4 (1964-6)
Alexander Goehr: Five Poems and an Epigram of William Blake, for chorus; Three Pieces for piano
Iain Hamilton: Organ Concerto; Cantos, for orchestra; Jubilee, for orchestra
Alun Hoddinott: Jack Straw, overture; Harp Sonata; Intrada, for organ; Sarum Fanfare, for organ, Toccata all Giga, for organ;  Danegeld, for unaccompanied voices
Robin Holloway: Concertino No 1 for small orchestra (1964-5); Three Poems of William Empson, for mezzo and ensemble
Herbert Howells: Motet on the Death of President Kennedy, for chorus
Daniel Jones: Symphony No 6
Wilfred Josephs: Symphony No 2; Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet and double-bass; Protégez-moi, children's chorus and instruments; La Répétition de Phédre, ballet (1964-5)
John Joubert: The Holy Mountain, canticle for chorus and two pianos; The Beatitudes, for unaccompanied chorus; The Quarry, one-act opera; Communion Service in D for chorus and organ
Kenneth Leighton: Symphony; Mass for chorus and organ
Elisabeth Lutyens: Music for piano and orchestra; Music for wind; Scena, for violin, cello and percussion
John McCabe: Variations on a Theme of Hartman, for orchestra; Symphony for ten wind instruments; Musica Notturna, for violin, viola and piano; Three Pieces for clarinet and piano; Movement for clarinet, violin and cello (revised 1966); Five Bagatelles for piano;
Prelude for organ; Johannis-Partita, for organ; Mary Laid Her Child, for unaccompanied chorus
Elizabeth Maconchy: Three Settings of Poems by Gerald Manley Hopkins, for high voice and chamber orchestra (1964-70)
William Mathias: Piano Sonata; Divertimento for flute, oboe and piano; Prelude, Aria and Finale for strings; Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, for mixed voices and organ
Nicolas Maw: One Man Show, comic opera; Corpus Christi Carol; Balulalow, carol for unaccompanied voices
Wilfrid Mellers: Laus Amoris, for strings
Thea Musgrave: The Decision, opera (1964-5)
Andrej Panufnik: 'Song to the Virgin Mary'
Edmund Rubbra: String Quartet No 3; Improvisation for solo cello
Priaulx Rainier: Concerto for cello and orchestra
Alan Rawsthorne: Symphony No 3; Elegiac Rhapsody, for strings
voice and guitar; Mass for five voices
Robert Still: Concerto for strings; Symphony No 4
John Tavener: The Cappemakers, for narrators, soli, chorus and instruments
Malcolm Williamson: The Display, dance symphony; The Merry Wives of Windsor, incidental music; Piano Concerto No 3; Sinfonia Concertante for piano, trumpets and orchestra; Variations for cello and piano, Elegy J.F.K., for organ, Three Shakespeare Songs for voice and guitar (or piano)

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