I thought I would really enter the spirit of 50 years ago, but go one further and get to 100 years ago. This was even before King Crimson, so no prog.
As I’ve related ad nausium, I use Foobar to play CDs ripped to my pc. The application allows much more flexibility than something like iTunes and also does not nag nag nag to go buy the tune. Why would I? I have it already?
When I used iTunes I added details such as Opus, catalogue number, alternative catalogue number, date composed, arranger, transcriber, librettist, cat’s name etc. in the title so that it took as long to read what I was playing as to listen to it.
With Foobar, these can all be put into separate fields:
That was a joke by the way, his cat was called Squartatore (no it wasn’t).
I have 78 tracks that I have set to include 1919.
Bax – Harp Quintet (GP214 – three different recordings), Russian Suite (GP215), Symphonic Variations (GP210), Tintagel (GP213 – Seven different recordings!) and What the Minstrel Told Us (GP219).
Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, KCVO (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) seemed to me a typical establishment figure, but reading around his life, this was not the case. He got very interested in Irish culture and the bloody independence conflict with the UK affected him as he had friends and loves on both sides. The thing that made me really warm to him was that after the second world war, he moved to rooms above a pub in Sussex and lived there for the rest of his life. His most famous work is Tintagel, a tone poem (that’s an orchestral piece with some kind of story to tell). Tintagel Castle is in Cornwall and is associated with Arthur (sings from the cartoon ‘Arthur, the king of Camelot’) This has a moody beginning and then a horn bit which is extraordinary. After that it meanders about. Were you to ask me my favourite Bax, it would be Christmas Eve, which last year was the first time I did not play it as I wrapped presents. When the organ comes in is sublime.
Elgar – Piano Quintet in A minor (Op. 84) (two recordings), Cello Concerto (Op. 85) (ten recordings).
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM GCVO (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934)
The most famous piece here is of course the Piano Quin … Oh, of course it isn’t. The ‘melancholia personified’ piece which is the Cello Concerto is possible one of the finest pieces of English music. Although he lived until 1934, his output after this piece is mostly ignored. WW1 affected him deeply and he also lost his wife who was his rock around this time. He probably had a relaxing time after, playing golf and conducting, founding HMV and recording, but his composing suffered. The most famous interpretation is by Jacqueline Du Pré who sadly developed Multiple sclerosis and had to stop performing aged just 28.
Grainger – Grainger: Song for wind orchestra ‘Children’s March: Over the Hills & Far Away’ and Grainger: Passacaglia For Piano Six Hands ‘Green Bushes’
Grainger was an ego on legs. He married in the Hollywood Bowl in front of thousands. Lets us speak of ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’ Many will know the title from the Led Zep song, but it is a traditional tune. They used it in the Sharpe TV series, set in the Peninsular War and I thought I had a version from John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera, but all my search does is bring up a Scottish band of the same name.
Respighi – Ballata delle Gnomidi
Ottorino Respighi (9 July 1879 – 18 April 1936) was not English. I know that is a surprise to any who have been following my classical posts where all are British (actually its worse than that in that they all have been English). Not a piece I’m that familiar with but it is quite enjoyable. If you’ve never heard anything by him, find a copy of The Pines of Rome then the Ancient Dances.
There are then some stuff by Camille Saint-Saëns (who I thought was dead by 1919), Jean Sibelius (another of my absolute favourites – but not these two pieces), Stavinsky (meah for this piece – but I could listen to the Firebird forever) and John Ireland, for whom I think I’ve got the date wrong.
That leaves us with two pieces:
Gurney. A Gloucestershire Rhapsody
Ivor Bertie Gurney (28 August 1890 – 26 December 1937) was born in Gloucester city, but died quite near to where I live now. I thought to myself, why would he live in Dartford? Turns out it was not by choice. He died in a mental institution having been massively affected by WW1. The hospital is now posh flats. Near the M25 so not that posh. He left poetry, prose and some pieces of music which surprise me by not being popular to us here. But then I remember that people here watch banal TV shows, think stretch limos are a good idea and also that having trouser tops slung below their arses is cool. Pity us.
Vaughan Williams. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (written 1910, revised 1913 and 1919)
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM (12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) is one of those people who confound popular opinions. There is a perceived truism that a composer or songwriter starts with great tunes but no structure and then as they learn how things fit together, their muse has gone. Think Brahms. Vaughan Williams is not like that. You would think he’d sit on his laurels, but he didn’t.
This however was at the other end of his career where he took a theme from an Elizabethan composer and created a tremendous quarter of an hour or so of music. This is one to put on loud after kicking the cat out, locking the door, removing the battery from the mobile and settling in a deep chair – shot gun in hand to repel anyone who dares impinge on the pleasure.