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July - Sept
2018

Lloyd's loss is the world's gain: a tribute to Hubert Parry

Laura Clark

Hubert Parry

B flat major to G major, two chords that would never fail to elicit a chain of appreciative nods along the choir stalls. 'I was glad', three words that could heal any prior misdemeanours, during the responses or the rehearsal tea break. It is impossible to think of Hubert Parry without recalling a fond memory of choral camaraderie and difficult to listen to his music without sensing the warmth of his character.

Composer Laureate, Heather Professor of Music, Sir and 1st Baronet: despite his many titles, Parry was a humble man, committed to the humanitarian cause. He was born in Bournemouth on February 27th, 1848, the youngest of six children. His father, Thomas Gambier Parry (1816-1888) was an avid collector of Italian art. He was also a painter and lacking the gift of Italian weather, he invented the mural technique of 'Spirit Fresco', appropriate for the rain-soaked stone walls of his private chapel at Highnam and Ely Cathedral.

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Parry's Progress, 1918-2018

Michael Trott

Hubert Parry

2018 marks the centenary of the death of Sir Hubert Parry, an outstanding figure in the musical world for several decades. He was a great composer - who could regard Jerusalem, Blest Pair of Sirens, I Was Glad or the Songs of Farewell as other than great music? He was a fine writer on music, an educator and administrator, but also an historian and free-thinker, whose keenness of vision was an inspiration to his many students and whose humility and integrity endeared him to all who met him. News of his death at 70 at his Sussex home on October 7th 1918 came as a blow to many, and most of the key figures in British music attended a memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral on October 16thwhen his remains were interred in the crypt. This article reviews events in the fortunes of his reputation and works in the following 100 years.

In his obituary of Parry in The Musical Times in November 1918, Parry's former student Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote, 'The secret of Parry's greatness as a teacher was his broad-minded sympathy ... he saw what lay behind the faulty utterance and made it his object to clear the obstacles that prevented fullness of musical speech. His watchword was "characteristic" - that was the thing that mattered.'

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Music and Artistry in the Trenches

Imogen Windsor

Trenches

Harold Triggs, having enlisted to fight in the British Army in World War I, took his much loved ‘trench cello’ to war. The elegance of the instrument and its sound may have seemed incongruous with the chaos and devastation of Ypres in 1915. But Triggs wasn’t the only one looking for comfort through music.

The term ‘instrument of war’ normally suggests some sort of wartime tool or machine, like a battering ram, catapult or artillery piece. Then there are instruments of communication, such as radio and satellite. One hundred years ago, an instrument of war might have been a bugle which, like a trench whistle, was used to convey messages and instructions between trenches - an audible signal above the gunfire.

However, there were also musical instruments which some soldiers took with them to war, or even constructed themselves, to play in the trenches.

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Bernstein and Mahler – brothers in Apollo

Robert Matthew-Walker

Leonard Bernstein

On October 14th 1990, Leonard Bernstein died at the age of 72 - a death he himself had hastened through his unwillingness to do as he was told by his doctors, and by his recklessness in ignoring what his inner mind was surely telling him he ought not to do. By then, of course, it was too late. Bernstein's headlong rush to the peaceable state of death which finally exorcised his personal demons removed from the world one of the greatest conductors - certainly one of the greatest all-round musicians - of the second half of the 20th-century.

Leonard Bernstein was many things to many men: a composer of wide range and accomplishment, a pianist of equal measure, a teacher - 'communicator' is perhaps the better word - and an exceptionally well-read man who possessed a remarkably retentive mind. On a personal level, Bernstein could have you eating out of his hand within five minutes of a first meeting, and just as readily infuriate you with his selfish excesses and boorishness. Above all else, he was a very great conductor.

 

 

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Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik (Witten New Chamber Music Days)

Wittener

In its 50th installment this year, the Witten New Chamber Music Days festival featured a suitably superlative array of new works. Spread across the scenic venues of the Saalbau concert hall, the Art Museum, and the Rudolph Steiner School in Witten, North Rhine-Westphalia, the positive audience energy, scintillating range of artworks, and impressive style and skill of the performers were apt for a celebratory series of events.

Composer-singer Agata Zubel premiered her 2018 cycle of Cleopatra’s Songs, setting a psychological rollercoaster of vituperative verse condensed from Shakespeare’s play. From the guttural opening command ‘Give me some music; music, moody food’, through bitter, burning melismatic fury; wild registral leaps; and the almost painfully drawn-out entreaty ‘Think you there was, or might be, such another man as this I dream’d of?’, the contrasting shades of Zubel’s diverse vocal palette complimented her high-voltage stage presence.

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Franz Schreker’s Opera ‘Die Gezeichneten’

Brendan G. Carroll

conductor

On August 28, 1919, the noted American periodical Musical Courier carried an article by Cesar Saerchinger entitled: Franz Schreker, an Austrian: Hailed as the Messiah of German Opera. The reason for this extraordinary salute was the world premiere of Schreker's new opera Die Gezeichneten, that had taken place in Frankfurt the previous April.

Saerchinger wrote, in part:-

"In the last year of the war, in the midst of that terrible spring offensive, which threw Germany into the abyss, Franz Schreker's great new work, Die Gezeichneten, was produced. The way in which the people received it seemed to say that here, at last, was what they had been groping for. Such a success, in the case of a serious work, is almost a miracle. People from everywhere travelled to Frankfurt to hear the opera, where it was produced a number of times throughout the summer. Munich followed last spring....and from there, the work began a triumphal progress through Germany such as has not been the lot of an opera in a generation..."

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Musical Appreciation in Primary Education

Tim Hopkins

musical appreciation

Although not a music specialist, I have always been a keen listener to music, and have even some modest compositions to my name. Being a general subjects teacher in a primary school I felt I could use my experience and enthusiasm for music to introduce the classes I taught to classical music.

Some mistakes were made the first year I introduced these lessons, but having eliminated errors, I had a list of criteria by which future lessons would be governed. Some choices became popular and these are worth listing, including points that were made in discussions of the pieces.

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