Saturday, 6 February 2016

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

Emil Młynarski (Wikipedia)
The May 1915 edition of The Musical Times carried a pen portrait of Emil Młynarski who at that time was the principal conductor of the Scottish Orchestra.  The essay concluded with a statement by Młynarski about the aims and objects of the Festival, as well as a listing of the concert programmes. Much of what Młynarski writes about the ‘neglect’ of British music both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere seems remarkably familiar a century later.

Emil Młynarski wrote:
The character of this Festival is retrospective. It is not for the purpose of introducing the music of new and unknown composers, for it is believed that whatever public demand there is for this is amply provided for by the efforts of other organizations. In the programmes of the three concerts, none but those composers who have already won distinction are represented. The music played is exclusively British, and consists of what is, in the opinion of the selection committee, the best and most characteristic written and produced during the past ten years. Though actual novelty has not been a credential for inclusion in the programmes, a first-rate work that is unfamiliar has obtained precedence over one that is well-known.
As conductor of the Scottish Orchestra for five seasons, I have been acquainted with many British works, and have been surprised that their composers were so little known on the Continent and, indeed, so much neglected in their own country. The reason for the neglect of the British composer abroad is largely that the foreigner has so few opportunities of hearing British music, even in Britain. Performances are so scattered and so irregular that no clear idea can be conveyed of the growth and development of British music.
Important musical organizations, having no Government grant or wealthy patrons, have to please to live; experience has shown that, under existing conditions, the British composer is not profitable.
A series of Festivals in London in May-June might do much for the British composer abroad, and lead to a fuller development of British music at home…
…I desire to express my great appreciation of the artistic support afforded by Mr. Thomas Beecham, whose enthusiasm has been such a great factor in musical progress in this country. 
Musical Times, May 1915

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