Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Festival of British Music, May 1915. (Part I)

Researching Frederick Delius’ North Country Sketches led me to the June 1915 edition of Musical Opinion and Music Trade Review for a critique of that work’s first performance. It was a part of a series of paragraphs by the critic ‘Capriccio.’  The first part of his review was a comprehensive examination of the Festival of British Music promoted by Emil  Mlyarski [1] and Thomas Beecham.
I intend to present not only the Musical Opinion review, but a number of other notices from various contemporary journals and newspapers. I will also give some indication as to the work’s subsequent success in the concert hall and recording studio.
It is important to recall that the First World War was approaching its second year and that the landings at Gallipoli had been made in the month prior to the first concert.

Capriccio writes:
‘Of the various concerts of British music that have happened recently the most important, in point of bulk at all events, were those which made up the Festival promoted by M. Mlynarski and Mr. Beecham. It may be advisable to treat of them first [2], inasmuch as they were representative of many – though by no means all – contemporary modes of English composition.
Some names were included in the programmes that could well have been spared; while others were omitted which are in every way typical of what is best in native music.
The idea of the promoters was, as is well-known, not to introduce novelties, but to give fresh performances of works already held in esteem. The plan is of course highly commendable; but the committee responsible for the selection cannot be entirely complimented upon its final choice of works. Much interesting music, and not a little of uncommon dullness was played at the Festival; and a comprehensive, although not adequately representative, selection from the repertoires of the best known British writers was given.’
‘Capriccio’, Musical Opinion & Music Trade Review (June 1915)  

[1] Emil Młynarski (1870-1935) was a Polish conductor, composer, violinist and academic. Between 1910 and 1916 he was the Principal Conductor of the Scottish Orchestra (now the Royal Scottish National Orchestra).
[2] A number of other concerts and recitals were reviewed including some organised by Joseph Holbrooke. 

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