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Twentieth Century Composers: Part 2: The Elgar Diaries, Letters and Manuscripts from Birmingham University Library


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Twentieth Century Composers

Introduction:Twentieth Century Composers: Part 1: Music Manuscripts of Tippett, Bliss andFinzi

 

Publishers Note

 

Primary Source Media, an imprint of Gale, a part of CengageLearning, is proud to present this first part in a major new programme of themanuscripts of Twentieth Century Composers: a comprehensive study of SirMichael Tippett, Sir Arthur Bliss and Gerald Finzi. This guide consists of acontents of reels listing, a detailed listing and a discography for eachindividual composer.

 

This programme presents all the extant manuscripts of SirMichael Tippetts work to date, bar nine. The backbone of this section of theproject is formed by the major collection donated to the British Library. Othermanuscripts are offered from:

 

The Britten-Pears Library
St. Johns College, Cambridge
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The Barber Institute
The Library of Congress
Northwestern University Library, Illinois
Mrs. Heather Nugent, Wadhurst

From his early period, the work still most popular andapproachable is the oratorio of 1944, based on a harrowing news story fromoccupied France. A Child of Our Time here in pencil score at B.L.Add.Ms.61754.

 

The earliest manuscript here, however, is of his firstacknowledged work, the String Quartet No. 1 of 1934-35, which bears on thepencil score the inscription many see as Tippetts commentary on his ownreception, Damn braces. Bless relaxes, from Blakes Marriage of Heaven andHell.

 

By 1946, having broken out of the confines of triadicharmony in his First Symphony of 1944-45 (Add.Ms.61760-61), Tippet had achieveda mature characteristic style, in his first major opera The MidsummerMarriage, of 1946-52 (Add.Ms.61766). Also from this period, is thepassionate song cycle The Hearts Assurance, 1950-51, from the Britten-PearsLibrary.

 

Tippetts style once achieved however, has never beenallowed to ossify, and in his second opera, King Priam, (1958-61,manuscript from the Library of Congress), he reversed the style of MidsummerMarriage, and produced a work almost Brechtian in its demand for objectiveattention, with alternating scenes and sung interludes.

 

Tippett is as well known today for his philosophical outlookand mystical stance as for his musical innovation, and in his Vision of St.Augustine (1963-65, Add.Mss.61781-92) he presented the present on amystical scale, prefiguring the grand scope of his comments on post-nuclearBritain in The Mask of Time (1980-83, Add.Mss.63826-37).

 

Tippetts two later operas The Knot Garden (1966-69manuscript from Northwestern University Library) and The Ice Break(1973-76) Add.Mss.61801-02) takes opera yet further with a paring down to barepowerful simplicity in the first, and a blending of his own with blues style inthe latter, echoing the use of negro spirituals in A Child of Our Time.

 

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) was half-American on his fathersside. He studied with Charles Wood at Cambridge, where he also came under theinfluence of Edward Dent, and then at the Royal College of Music; among hiscontemporaries there were Herbert Howells, Ivor Gurney, Eugene Goossens andArthur Benjamin. In 1912 he also met Elgar who encouraged him. Afterdistinguished service in the First World War, in which he was wounded in theBattle of the Somme in 1916, gassed at Cambrai in 1918, and mentioned indispatches, he returned to England to gain a reputation of some notoriety withworks for ensembles (often exploiting the voice) such as Madam Noy(1918) and Rout (1920).

 

During the twenties A Colour Symphony (1921-2),Introduction and Allegro (1926), the Oboe Quintet (1927), the Pastoral(1929) and Serenade (1929) established Bliss as an important voice. Hiswar experience found musical utterance in the profound choral symphony MorningHeroes (1930), whilst the Clarinet Quintet (1932) and Music for Strings(1935) showed his command of absolute forms. In 1934-5 he composed the musicfor Alexander Kordas film of H.G. Wellss Things to Come, the first ofseveral remarkable artistic collaborations which also included Dame Ninette deValois and the artist E. McKnight Kauffer on the ballet Checkmate(1937), Robert Helpmann on the ballets Miracle in the Gorbals (1944) andAdam Zero (1946), J.B. Priestley on the opera The Olympians(1948-9), Christopher Hassall on the large-scale choral works The Beatitudes(1961) and Mary of Magdela (1962), and Kathleen Raine on The GoldenCantata (1963).

 

These works indicate the range of Blisss art which alsoincludes concertos for piano (1938-9), violin (1955) and cello (1970) as wellas vocal works and a substantial body of chamber music, which, apart from theoboe and clarinet quintets, includes two string quartets (1941, 1950), and aViola Sonata (1933). Among his other major achievements are the orchestral Meditationson a Theme of John Blow (1955) and Metamorphic Variations (1972).During World War II Bliss was director of music at the BBC, where hisfar-sighted vision shaped policy and established programmes like MusicWeekly, Music in our Time and This Weeks Composer. He was knighted in1950 and appointed Master of the Queens Music in 1953, a post he serveddiligently with distinction, and which included composing the music for theInvestiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969. The same year he was made a KCVOand in 1971 a Companion of Honour, Blisss autobiography As I Remember(London, 1970, republished 1989) is a fascinating recollection of thecomposers life and times.

 

We are indebted to Lady Gertrude Bliss and the Bliss Trustfor their invaluable help in tracking down the autographs of Sir Arthur Blissand providing the listings of works without which this edition would not havebeen possible.

 

Gerald Finzi 91901-1956) spent a lonely childhood being theyoungest in a family of five where he found himself the outsider. By the age ofnine he had resolved to become a composer and during his teens studied withErnest Farrar whose death in action deeply distressed him. From 1917 to 1922 hewas taught by Edward Bairstow, master of the choristers at York Minster, and in1925 he studied counterpoint with R.O. Morris. During the twenties Finzi cameto attention with works like the song cycle By Footpath and Stile(1921-2) and the A Severn Rhapsody (1923) for orchestra. He also wrotethe Requiem da Camera (1924) as a memorial to Farrar which hesubsequently revised although it was never performed. After his marriage to theartist Joyce Black in 1933 he moved to the countryside near Newbury, settlingat Ashmansworth on the crest of the Hampshire Downs in 1939.

 

Finzis reputation grew in the 1930s with performances ofhis Thomas Hardy settings A Young Mans Exhortation 91926-9) and Earthand Air and Rain (1928-32), and was consolidated with the cantata Diesnatalis (mid 1920s, 1938-9) setting Thomas Traherne. During World War IIFinze worked at the Ministry of War Transport and founded a fine, predominantlyamateur orchestra, the Newbury String Players; his Shakespeare songs Let usGarlands bring (1929-1942) and popular clarinet Bagatelles (1938-43) alsoappeared. To the post-war years belong the festival anthem Lo, the Full,Final Sacrifice (1946), the ceremonial ode For St. Cecilia 91946-7),and a further Hardy song set Before and After Summer (1932-49); duringthis time an association formed with the Three Choirs Festival where the firstperformances took place of the Clarinet Concerto (1948-9) and the choral ode Intimationsof Immortality (late 1930s, 1949-50). Although the final years of his lifewere lived under the shadow of incurable illness, major works he completedincluded the Magnificat (1952), the Christmas scene In terra pax(1954) and the Cello Concerto (1952-2, 1954-5).

 

Finzis music is rooted in the tradition of Elgar andVaughan Williams who became a lifelong friend. However, his response to wordsis highly personal resulting in music that seems inevitably to mirror theessence of the poets thought. As with Finzis favourite poet, Hardy, a senseof urgency may be sensed in his music; a keen awareness of the transcience andfrailty of life. A further pre-occupation, manifest, for instance in Dies natalisand Intimations of Immortality, is the theme of mans experiencetarnishing the innocent experience of childhood. Both themes may be traced toFinzis youth when the deaths of father, three brothers and teacher made anindelible impression on him. As a young man he was introspective; literatureprovided companionship, and in authors like Hardy, Traherne and Wordsworth, hefound a kinship with philosophies that were to shape his life.

 

Indefatigable that nothing good should be lost, Finzisenergetic mind went far beyond his compositions. He was an ardent champion ofneglected composers, Gurney and Parry for example; with the Newbury Strings herevived 18th century English composers such as Stanley and Mudge and fosteredyoung talent like Kenneth Leighton; he collected a unique and valuable libraryof English poetry, philosophy and literature whose 3000 volumes are now housedat Reading University. And not the least he rescued the stock of severalEnglish apples from extinction. For Finzi the choice and the rare, be it music,fine writing or simply a sweet tasting apple were joys to perpetuate.

 

This collection presents all Gerard Finzis knownmanuscripts from the Bodleian Library, Oxford and the British Library, London.

 

We thank Mr. Robert Gower and the Finzi Trust for theirpermission to publish the Finzi autographs, and for their help in locating themanuscripts.

 

Acknowledgements

 

There are many people without whom this complex editionwould not have been possible, and we would like to give special thanks to SirMichael Tippett for his co-operation in the programme, Lady Gertrude Bliss andSarah Faulder of the Bliss Trust. A special thank you must go to Andrew Burn ofthe Bliss trust for his invaluable help in compiling the information for theintroduction on Bliss and Finzi and also Robert Gower of the Finzi Trust.Thanks go also to Alan Woolgar of Schott, Giles Easterbrook, Sir MichaelTippetts assistant Mr. Nicholas Wright, and Arthur Searle of the BritishLibrarys Department of Manuscripts for their invaluable help in setting upthis project.

 

Thanks are also due to the many librarians and owners ofmanuscripts who have allowed and helped us to piece together the edition: Dr.Paul Banks of the Britten-Pears Library, Dr. H.R.L. Beadle of St. JohnsCollege, Cambridge, Mr. Ian Ledsham of the Barber Institute at BirminghamUniversity, Mrs. Heather Nugent of Wadhurst, Mr. James Pruett of the Library ofCongress, Mr. Don L. Roberts of Northwestern University Library, Dr. SarahWhite of London, Messrs Paul Woodhuysen and W.F. Northam of the FitzwilliamMuseum, Cambridge, Derek Williams at Cambridge University Library, ChristineHall and the Manuscript Department of the British Library, John H. Roberts andthe Music Library of the University of California at Berkeley; Helen Valentineof the Royal Academy of Art; Richard Newman of the New York Public Library,Christopher Barnet, Reference Librarian of the Royal College of Music, StephenJ. Patterson of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle; the Music Library Staff ofthe Pierpont Morgan Library, New York; Lady Susanna Walton and the staff of theFondazione William Walton, Forio dIschia; Ken Timber and Fred Arnold of theRoyal Artillary Band Library, Woolwich Garrison; Mr. James Meikle, Librarian ofthe Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall; Martin B. Williams, Secretaryto the Musicians Benevolent fund; Mrs. Mary Priestly and Mr. George Dannatt.

 

For their advice, help and permission to publish the Finzicollection from the Bodleian Library, Oxford we must thank Mr. David Vaisey,the Bodleys Librarian, and Peter Ward-Jones Music Librarian.

 

The autograph full score of the Piano Concerto is reproducedby kind permission of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for whom it wascommissioned by the John Feeney Trust.

 

Note

 

In his compositions, as in all aspects of his life, ArthurBliss was a perfectionist. Thus, he was never satisfied with a score, andcontinued to make improvements to them all his life, usually small but oftenquite significant ones.

 

In many cases the original manuscript was not available tohim, having already been presented to somebody or else being on the other sideof the globe (he spent a considerable time living and working in the UnitedStates). On these occasions, the alterations would be put into whatever he hadhandy to serve as a master, which might have been either a photocopy or aprinted score.

 

The researcher and scholar is urged to keep this in mindwhen working on these microfilms, as the fact of their being copies of theautograph does not guarantee their authenticity regarding the final thoughts ofthe composer, and should use them as a basis for investigative research, ratherthan as a definitive urtext.

 

Giles Easterbrook

 

 

Introduction: Twentieth Century Composers: Part 2: TheElgar Diaries, Letters and Manuscripts from Birmingham University Library

 

Primary Source Media, an imprint of Gale, a part of CengageLearning, is proud to be able to present this collection from BirminghamUniversity Library, on one of Englands finest composers. Included are 59diaries: 10 by the composer himself (1892-94, 1900, 1905, 1918-21, 1925 &1928), 33 by his wife Alice (for 1889-1920) and 16 by their daughter Carice(for 1889-1939): 33 letters: 29 by Edward to Frederick Gaisberg of TheGramophone Company, his publisher John West at Novello and the BBC: theautograph manuscript of The Music Makers and a printed vocal score of TheDream of Gerontius annotated with pencil observations on the firstperformance.

 

Elgars own diaries spread over a period of 35 years, andinclude journals of his travels. He writes relatively little compared to hiswife, but her death in his arms is movingly recorded:

My darling sinking. Father Valentine gave extreme unction sinking all day& died in my arms at 6.10 pm.

Alices diaries provide a detailed picture of the Elgars daily life, theimmense labour of Elgars composing and sometimes, of the emotions stirred byhis works, of the first Three Choirs Festival performance of The Dream ofGerontius in 1902, she writes:

Most beautiful, most wonderful in Cathedral A most wonderful day.

The letters to West are largely about details of corrections to works: Westspedantic correctness is more than once dismissed by Elgar insisting that itsounds right. The letters to Gaisberg have a more friendly, witty tone, mostdating from the end of Elgars life. He writes: Our visit to Delius was agreat event for me, and of Yehudi Menuhins performance of Elgars ViolinConcerto at the Royal Albert Hall:

I shd. be a very ungrateful person if I did not at once send hearty thanks toyou for bringing about the wonderful performance. Yehudi was marvelous

Elgars attempts to write a 3rd symphony are documented in 2 letters to OwenMase of the BBC in April 1933. He writes:

I am as forward with the works as I had hoped to be & if nothing untowardoccurs shd. be able to begin to feed the publishers with MS shortly.

Three days later, presumably in response to a letter from Mase, he writes: Ilike your idea to announce the symphony for the May Festival of 1934. Sadlythe Symphony has not been heard until its completion in 1998.

 

The autograph manuscript of the choral ode The MusicMakers, 1912, is a significant part of the collection, showing the processof composition from sketch to final draft.

 

The Nature of theGuide

 

This guide, based on the typescript inventory of thecollection kept in the Special Collections Department of the UniversityLibrary, offers a contents of reels giving brief descriptions of each item. Thecollection is organized in 4 sections: Diaries, Letters, Manuscripts andTranscripts.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Primary Source Media are indebted to the help and expertiseof Christine Penney, University Archivist of the University of Birmingham,Clive Field, Birmingham Universitys Librarian, and also the Barber Trust, forallowing us to publish such rare and valuable material. We are also indebted toMr. Raymond Monk, Director of the Elgar Foundation and copyright owner ofCarice Elgars diaries, Mr. Peter Shakeshaft of the Sir Edward Elgar Will Trustfor arranging permission to publish the diaries and letters of Sir Edward Elgarand Lady Elgars diaries.

 

Elgar Foundation Note:

 

For several years I owned and cared for the diaries of Edwardand Alice Elgar and I can testify that combined with the Elgar letters,published and unpublished, they add up to perhaps the most complete documentarysource for any composer. The diaries are an indispensable record of the day byday activities of the Elgars and of the times in which they lived. We meettheir friends and are told much about them, especially the Enigma characters,and the pattern of their meetings. The diaries span the thirty year creativelife of Edward Elgar and they enable us to trace the progress of thecomposition and orchestration of all the great works. These fascinatingdocuments will always be the ultimate source for supplying/corroboratingfactual information for the period they cover and they are an essential toolfor any biographer.

 

We have, in these pages, a wonderful opportunity for thestudy of Alice Elgar herself, in the way she saw her husband and herrelationship with him. Theirs was in many ways the most remarkable marriage inmusical history and I rejoice to know that through the medium of microfilmthese unique diaries will be available worldwide to all who wish to studythem.

 

Raymond Monk
Director, The Elgar Foundation
Editor, Elgar Studies and Edward Elgar: Music and Literature