Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year's Greetings

A Happy and Prosperous New Year
To All Readers of
The Land of Lost Content

Significant British Composer Anniversaries for 2017:

Henry Brinley Richards (1817-85)
Thomas German-Reed (1817-88)

150 Years:
Herbert Bedford (1867-1945)
Robert Ernest Bryson (1867-1942)
Stanley Hawley (1867-1916)
Amy Elsie Horrocks (1867-c.1919)
Edward Woodall Naylor (1867-1934)
Thomas Tertius Noble (1867-1953)
Frederick Rosse (1867-1940)
Reginald Steggall (1867-1938)
Amherst Webber (1867-1946)

Richard Arnell (1917-2009)
Francis Baines (1917-99)
Joyce Howard Barrell (1917-89)
Brian Boydell (1917-2000)
Reginald Smith Brindle (1917-2003)
Hugo Cole (1917-95)
Robert Farnon (1917-2005)
John Gardner (1917-2011)
Francis Jackson (b.1917)
John A Burgess Wilson [Anthony Burgess] (1917-93)

75th Anniversary (1942):
Martin Dalby (b.1942)
David Fanshawe (1942-2010)
John Purser (b.1942)
Francis Shaw (b.1942)

The big celebration in 2017 is the centenary of Francis Jackson, who is still very much part of the music-making scene. His achievement as an organist, choirmaster, and composer will hopefully be under considerable scrutiny as his birthday (2 October) approaches.
Richard Arnell died relatively recently (2009). His works have been subject to a major series of CD releases (mainly) by Dutton Epoch including all seven numbered symphonies, the ballets The Angels, Harlequin in April and The Great Detective, together with Punch and the Child, the string quartets and other chamber works.
Richard Farnon (1917-2005) has given pleasure to many music lovers over the years. He is one of the best loved and most prolific of the so-called ‘light’ composers. Yet listeners may be surprised to hear his impressive Symphony No.2 which is more profound that his delightful ‘Portrait of a Flirt’ and ‘Little Miss Molly’. Hopefully, he will be regularly heard on Classic FM during the coming year.

Neophyte composers who have dabbled with twelve tone music will have read Lancashire-born Reginald Smith Brindle’s (1917-2003) excellent book Serial Composition: they may have worked through several the exercises. Yet, his music is little known. His main achievement was in the field of chamber and vocal works. Let’s hope we hear a few of this work this coming year.

John Gardner’s Symphony No.2 has been released on Dutton Epoch in 2016 (coupled with John Veale’s Second Symphony. It is part of an ongoing appraisal of his music. However, he has a large catalogue of approachable music that demands further exploration.

In recent years, a start has been made on discovering the music of John A. Burgess Wilson, better known as the author Anthony Burgess. His other occupations include ‘novelist, critic, composer, librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist’. Enough activity for a dozen lifetimes. I look forward to more recordings of his music, to compliment the recent remarkable release on Naxos and the 2013 Metier retrospective. 

Finally, it is good to note that three of the composers celebrating their 75th birthdays are alive and well and active. John Purser, Martin Dalby have made considerable contributions to music in Scotland and farther afield over many years. Francis Shaw’s two piano concertos have been recently recorded on Lyrita to considerable acclaim. 

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