Born in Birmingham, Abbott studied music at Birmingham and Reading Universities before attending the Royal College of Music to study with Gordon Jacob (orchestration), Richard Austin (conducting) and Frank Probyn (horn). He conducted many operetta and musical productions in London and on tour and composed much incidental music for the theatre.
He joined the Royal Ballet as a conductor for the tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1958-9 and then the BBC as Music Producer (Radio), working mainly with the BBC Concert Orchestra. In 1965, he left to take up the position of Musical Director at Turkish State Ballet and in 1971, he became Resident Conductor of Australian Ballet, where he remained for five years, before moving on to become Musical Director of Western Australian Opera and the Western Australian Arts Orchestra. He returned to Britain in 1979 and became a guest conductor for Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet and Norwegian National Ballet.
Today, Abbott edits ballets and orchestrates other composers’ music, mainly for television and recordings.
PATRICK APPLEFORDborn 1925
Reverend Appleford was one of the leading figures of the 20th Century Church Light Music Group, who broke new ground with their popular-style hymns in the 1960s. Appleford found his vocation at Trinity College, Cambridge, where Geoffrey Beaumont was his chaplain, studied for the ministry at Chichester and served his first curacy at All Saints Poplar from 1952-8. There he wrote pantomimes for the youth club and his first hymns. With Beaumont, he founded the 20th Century Church Light Music Group and edited a number of collections of new hymns and songs, many of which found their way into hymn books around the world and are still sung frequently today.
From Poplar, he went to lecture in worship and be chaplain at Bishops’College Cheshunt, before going to be Education Secretary of USPG and in 1966 Dean of Lusaka Cathedral in Zambia. His New English Mass was one of the settings of the new services commissioned by the Liturgical Commission when he was in Zambia. This simple and attractive setting has remained hugely popular ever since. From 1975 until his retirement in 1990, he was Director of Education for the diocese of Chelmsford. He has continued to write music for worship and has worked recently on a cantata and an opera with the Essex composer Jeffrey Wilson. His Meditations and Verses for the Christian Year were published by Kevin Mayhew.
One of the group of English composers - Elgar, Parry, Stanford, Holbrooke and Havergal Brian were among the others - active in the first half of this century who continued working within the boundaries of traditional harmony long after the musical establishment began looking towards the new direction given by the Second Viennese School.
Bantock studied with Frederick Corder at the Royal Academy of Music and became active in organising public performances of his own and his colleagues works. He was, in fact, unusually generous in this respect, always speaking with admiration of his peers and taking opportunities to conduct their works when he could. He championed Sibelius, conducting his Symphony No. 1 in 1905, and the two developed a long-standing admiration and friendhsip.
He produced a number of monumental works for chorus and orchestra, among them the setting of Fitzgerald’s complete translation of Omar Khayyam and the sensuous setting of The Song of Songs. His symphonies and other orchestral music have been rediscovered in recent years thanks to Hyperion’s excellent series with the conductor Vernon Handley, a series which has been warmly received by the public. His exotic interests, ranging from Persia and the Orient to the Hebrides, are all represented to a greater or lesser extent in his compositions.
Born in the East End of London, Bart wrote what was arguably the greatest British musical of all time, his adaptation of Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’, Oliver!, known to millions around the world through the Oscar-winning feature film starring Ron Moody and Oliver Reed.
He earned his early living as a graphic designer and through working as a scene painter in the theatre became acquainted with the actors and singers for whom he began to write songs. The first of these was Tommy Steele, of whose backing group, The Cavemen, Bart became virtually an honorary member. This brought him success in the pop field, but he yearned to write for the theatre and the left-wing Unity Theatre in King’s Cross, which he joined, staged his first musical, Wally Pone (a Cockney version of Jonson’s Volpone) in 1958. This attracted the attention of Bernard Miles at the Mermaid, who commissioned him to write the lyrics to Laurie Johnson’s music for Lock up your Daughters, the Mermaid’s first major success, which transferred to the West End and was later staged in America.
After writing both music and lyrics for another hit show, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, he wrote No.1 hits for both Cliff Richard (Living Doll) and Anthony Newley (Do You Mind?) before launching his greatest project, Oliver!, for which he not only wrote music and lyrics but also adapted Dickens’ novel. for the stage.
Bart found it impossible to repeat the staggering success of this show. Blitz! in 1962 and Maggie May in 1963 were comparatively moderately successful, although they have both been seen in London during the 1990s in excellent revivals by the National Youth Theatre. The burlesque of the Robin Hood legend Twang! was a disastrous failure in 1975, but Bart continued writing up to his recent death and Cameron Mackintosh’s smash-hit revival of Oliver! helped restore him to the limelight towards the end of his life.
Born in Derby, Binge was one of the most respected and successful English composers of his generation. His father, a capable pianist, died in 1920 of wounds received during the war, leaving the family in straitened circumstances, without money to pay for Binge to attend music college. Instead, he obtained work as a cinema organist, which enabled him to learn a great deal of light repertoire and to develop his skill as an arranger (the cinema had a small orchestra, for whom he wrote)..
After a stint as an orchestral pianist with the high-calibre light orchestra at Great Yarmouth, he left for London and in 1935 his association with Mantovani began - from this time Binge did all of the Mantovani orchestra’s arrangements, as well as writing much music of his own, some of which was recorded and broadcast. He joined the RAF on the outbreak of the Second World War and took charge of the choir at his station in Blackpool, where Sidney Torch conducted the orchestra. They became lifelong friends.
The war over, Binge earned his living as an arranger and orchestrator for the broadcasting orchestras - in the 1950s, the BBC had eight light orchestras on staff, each with several programmes a week - and scored more than fifty television and feature films. He devised the famous Mantovani "casdcading strings" sound in 1951, inspired by the acoustics of large cathedrals, which was shown to greatest effect in the song Charmaine and became an instant success. His own Elizabethan Serenade was hugely popular and so was Sailing By, which for many years played out nightly the close of BBC Radio 2.
Binge was the epitomy of the successful light music composer, perhaps the counterpart of the modern day film composer, for whom versatility and fluency of invention were of paramount importance.
Born in London, Bowen was a truly gifted musician, one of the finest pianist-composers of this century who also played the viola and french horn at a high level.. His music, written in a rich neo-romantic language that seemed outdated to contemporary taste, languished in obscurity for much of the century but returned to public attention recently when a recording of his solo piano music by the English pianist Stephen Hough received glowing reviews.
Bowen gained a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 14 and by the time he left there in 1905, he was esteemed "the most remarkable of the young British composers" by Saint-Saëns and produced three piano concertos between 1904 and 1908, two of which he performed himself as soloist at the Promenade Concerts at Queen’s Hall under Hans Richter. By 1929, when he wrote his fourth concerto (two symphonies had preceded it), the musical establishment had changed radically and the abstract poetic romanticism of Bowen’s music no longer fitted the taste of the time, which turned away from anything resembling sentimentality and towards a cold, hard social realism, in keeping with the mood of the times.
The remainder of his life brought primarily disappointment for Bowen, with little success for his music, although he was championed by the iconoclastic composer Kaikhosru Sorabji, to whom he dedicated his Twenty-Four Preludes in 1950. He remainaed a professor at the Royal Academy until his death.
Born in Bratislava, Dohnányi is one of Hungary’s most important musical figures, renowned as one of the great concert pianists and also as a significant composer. His catalogue of works is modest (48 works), which is explained by the fact that he divided his career between composing, conducting, teaching and piano playing. More conservative than his contemporaries Bartók and Kodaly, Dohnányi wrote in a language rooted in the German tradition and achieved recognition before both. Stylistically, his works belong, therefore, partly to theprevious century and this lack of innovation (in contrast to Bartók and Kodaly, who constructed new languages from their extensive research into the traditional folk music of the Balkans), explains why he was later eclipsed as a composer by his illustrious compatriots.
His most famous work is the delightful Variations on a Nursery Song for piano and orchestra, but he also wrote the brilliant Suite for Orchestra , the Konzertstück for cello and orchestra recorded by Janos Starker and many important chamber and solo piano works, the most important of which are the Serenade for string trio, the Piano Quintet and the four Rhapsodies for piano. In all of his finest music, endlessly inventive melody is matched by a rich harmonic language firmly in the tradition of Brahms.
Musically precocious, Dring began playing the piano at an early age and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music Junior Department at the age of nine. There she began to write music for children’s plays and,for the rest of her life, she was powerfully attracted to writing for the theatre. Further scholarships enabled her to continue her studies at the Royal College with Herbert Howells.
She loved piano and composed much music for the instrument, including two piano works, which were fashionable in the 1950s. She composed at this time for revues and stage plays and, in the 1960s, for several television plays. Her more extended works include a one-act opera, Cupboard Love, and a dance-drama, The Fair Queen of Wu.
Family life prevented her from writing more extended works, but she did write a good deal of chamber and solo music.She also loved performing, particularly on the stage. Of her works, the charming Trio for flute,oboe and piano and the Five Betjeman Songs (of which the ‘Song of a Nightclub Proprietress’ is particularly popular) are still played frequently and the dances for solo piano and oboe feature regularly in examination lists.
Born in Liverpool, Ellis studied at the Royal Northern College of Music from 1953-7, a significanta period in British music, for among his fellow students were Maxwell Davies, Birtwistle, Alexander Goehr and the pianist John Ogdon, who together formed the Manchester New Music Group. It was at this time that his compositions gained recognition, not only through performances but also in the form of commissions and awards: the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize, the Royal College of Music Patrons’ Award, the Theodore Holland Award, the Royal Manchester Institution Silver Medal, the Ricordi Prize and a Gulbenkian Award.
From 1964, he worked at the BBC, initially having responsibility for BBC Philharmonic Orchestra programmes and subsequently as Head of Music, BBC North, until 1986, when he became the Artistic Director and Composer in Residence of the Northern Chamber Orchestra.
Apart from performances by many organisations in the U.K., his works have been played with considerable success in Canada, the U.S.A., Israel, Portugal, Denmark, Australia and throughout Europe in more recent years.
Born in Vienna, one of the major figures with Lehár, Kálmán, Oscar Strauss and Fall in the Silver Age of Viennese operetta. He struggled to make a career as a serious composer in his early years, supporting himself through teaching piano, before a well-meaning relative arranged an introduction to the librettist Ignatz Schnitzer (who had written the book for Der Zigeunerbaron). Schnitzer gave Eysler a book he had originally intended for Srauss to set, Der Hexenspiegel, and although the publisher Weinberger accepted the resulting work, he could not place it with any theatre. He did suggest Eysler use much of the musical material to fashion a new operetta, and this became the very successful Bruder Straubinger. Eysler’s subsequent operettas were very popular in Germany and Austria, but their rather ‘folksy’ Viennese character mitigated against their achieving the international success his contemporaries enjoyed. Der Lachende Ehemann (1913), Hanni, geht tanzen (1916) and Die gold’ne Meisterin (1927) are his best-known other works.
Together with Kálmán, Oscar Strauss and Korngold, Eysler’s music was suppressed during the Nazi regime because of his Jewish origin. Surprisingly, he did not emigrate during the war, but was hidden and protected by his family and friends throughout the period to 1945. His last few years brought him renewed recognition in Vienna, where he was a loved and respected figure.
Austrian pianist Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000) was one of the most
distinctive musical personalities of his era, certainly from the point of view of the
classical world. Winning First Prize in the Geneva competition in 1946 helped launch
his career and he made his debut at the Carnegie Hall in 1950, winning a reputation particularly
as an interpreter of Beethoven and Mozart. In 1967, he recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas
for Amadeo. He was, though, something of an anti-establishment figure, wearing
casual suits in his concerts, including his own jazz works in his recitals and rejecting
the Beethoven Ring sent him by the Vienna Academy in protest at its authoritarianism.
STEPHEN HOUGHborn 1961
Stephen Hough has emerged as a unique presence on the international concert scene. From highly acclaimed performances of standard repertoire, in recital and with the world’s finest orchestras, to his interest in discovering unusual and neglected works, he combines the imagination and pianistic colour of the past with the scholarship of the present, illuminating the very essence of the music he plays. His recordings have won international prizes such as the Diapason d’Or, the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Classic CD and Gramophone Awards - in 1996 his Hyperion CD of concertos by Scharwenka and Sauer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence Foster was awarded both Gramophone Magazine’s ‘Concerto Record of the Year’ as well as their overall ‘Recording of the Year’. He plays regular chamber music concerts, is a keen writer (providing liner notes for many of his recordings), and several of his own compositions and transcriptions are published by Josef Weinberger Ltd.
Born in Newcastle, Josephs had his first music studies with Arthur Milner in 1947, before qualifying as a dentist in 1951. After doing his military service, he decided to pursue a career in music and gained a scholarship from the Guildhall School of Music in London, which he used to study with Aldfred Nieman. His works began to win prizes and in 1958, he won a Leverhulme Scholarship, which enabled him to go to Paris and study with Max Deutsch. In 1962, he won first prize in the Jeunesses Musicales competition with the Comedy Overture: The Ants and a year later made a significant breakthrough when his Requiem in memory of the Jews who died during the Holocaust won the the first International Composing Competition of the City of Milan and La Scala. The prize was a première of the work at La Scala in 1965 conducted by Nino Sanzogno and the exposure of his music to the very highest musical circles.
Although he kept a close eye on the work of his peers, Josephs’ never tried to follow mainstream trends. He learnt a great deal about serial techniques from Deutsch, himself a pupil of Schönberg, and used them repeatedly in his own music. However, he always retained a belief in expression through melody and this can be traced through his whole output.
During the 1960s, Josephs became involved in writing music for film and achieved perhaps his most popular success with the score for the celebrated series, The Great War. Further successes in the genre followed. He continued composing serious concert music - the Beethoven Variations for André Prein and the London Symphony, for example - and concentrated increasingly on writing music for ballets and opera: Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel, was commissioned by Opera North and Cyrano by the Royal Ballet. His joie de vivre and raucous sense of humour are perhaps best reflected in the four works he wrote for the Hoffnung concerts, each based on a cartoon of the famous illustrator.
Born in Siofok on the shores of Lake Balaton in Hungary, Kálmán’s interest in music and theatre developed from an early age by family music-making and surreptitious attendance at rehearsals and performanmces at the local summer theatre. His family moved to Budapest when he was 14 after his father’s business collapsed and the consequent harsh economic circumstances through which they lived transformed Kálmán into a cautious, rather gloomy person.
He began composition lessons at the Budapest Academy of Music with Hans Kössler when still at school and, although his parents insisted he study law, he abandoned his legal studies to write music criticism for one of the leading Budapest newspapers. His colleagues at the Academy of Music included Bartók, Kodaly and Leo Weiner and his music was performed with theirs in a student concert in 1903. He won the Robert Volkmann composition prize in 1906 but irritated at his failure to have his music published, he approached Karl von Bakonyi, a successful librettist, and suggested they write an operetta together. The subject, the army manoeuvres that were a regular feature of life in pre-1914 Austria-Hungary, was Kálmán’s and after persuading a small Budapest theatre to stage the piece (Hertbstmanöver), news of its quality spread to Vienna and the directors of the Theater an der Wien came to Budapest to see it. Liking what they saw, the signed up the rights and produced it in Vienna in 1909, following which it was staged the same year in Hamburg, Stockholm, New York and London.
Kálmán thereafter focused his energies on writing operetta for the Capital City of operetta, and he became world-famous as a result. In 1915, Die Csardasfürstin appeared and it remains his most popular and commercially successful work. The war disrupted life, but Kálmán took up where he had left off, producing Gräfin Mariza in 1924 and Die Zirkusprinzessin in 1926. The Great Depression of the late 1920s affected theatre life greatly and Kálmán never again repeated his earlier successes. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, his music was banned first in Germany, then in Austria and he emigrated to America with his family in 1940, where he remained until after the war. The Kálmans returned to Europe in 1949 and Kálmán completed his last operetta, Arizona Lady, though sadly, he did not live to see it staged. He died in Paris.
ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD1897-1957
Renowned as a child prodigy and composer of Hollywood film scores, Korngold’s stage and concert music languished in obscurity for years thanks to the trend away from romanticism and towards intellectual complexity in twentieth century music, but is now being ‘rediscovered’ with a vengeance.
Born in Brno (Moravia, now the Czech Republic), Korngold was the son of the music critic Julius Korngold, whose hostility to the Second Viennese School surely influenced the the career of his son. He composed from a young age in a densely chromatic language. That he was a prodigy is borne witness to by the testimonies of Mahler (who declared him a genius and sent him to study with Zemlinksy) , Felix Weingartner and Richard Strauss. His two-act ballet-pantomime Der Schneeman was staged at the Hofoper in Vienna in the presence of the Emperor Franz Josef when he was 11 and by the time he was 23, he had already written two one-act operas and Die Tode Stadt (the most famous of his operas) was being premièred simultaneously in Hamburg and Cologne.
Korngold married in 1924 and in order to earn money accepted several commissions to re-orchestrate and arrange some of the classics of the operetta repertoire, including Strauss’s Eine Nacht in Venedig and Die Fledermaus, with considerable success. The other aspect of his work that upset the critics was his move into Hollywood films, which began when the producer-director Max Reinhardt brought him to America to supervise the music in the film of a staged production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (for which Korngold had written the incidental music).. Korngold became very successful in this field, winning Academy Awards in 1936 and 1938 for Anthony Adverse and The Adventures of Robin Hood and made several more trips to Hollywood - when the Nazis marched into Austria, he remained there and did not return to Europe until 1949.
On returning, he found the musical climate changed and the critics almost uniformly hostile to his music. His last work was the Symphony in F sharp major, about which he wrote, "I believe that my newly completed symphony will show the world that atonality and ugly dissonance and the price of giving up inspiration, form, expression, melody and beauty will result in ultimate disaster for the art of music." Words that might well have served as Korngold’s epitaph..
A director who has worked extensively with the National Youth Music Theatre, including on the musical he created with Richard Taylor based on the film of Whistle Down the Wind. Also presents the nightly news programme on BBC South West . Worked for Channel Television for seven years as arts editor and presenter.
FRANZ LEHÁR 1870-1948
Born in Komorn (Czech Republic) the son of a bandmaster in the Austro-Hungarian army. After studying violin and composition at the Prague Conservatoire, he joined the army as a musician and played for a time in his father’s orchestra at the same desk as his friend and later composer-colleague Leo Fall. At the age of 20, he became the youngest bandmaster in the army with a 110-piece orchestra at Austria’s only naval base, Pola on the Adriatic.
Though his early opera Kukuschka was played in Leipzig and Budapest, it created little interest and he first came to notice when he wrote the ‘name waltz’ for Princess Metternich’s ‘Gold and Silver’ ball in 1902. As conductor at the Theater an der Wien, he was soon composing operetta, into which form he engagingly remarked years later "I stumbled blindly with no idea what I was doing". The Merry Widow (1905) made him wealthy and internationally famous and was followed by Eva, The Count of Luxembourg and Gipsy Love before 1914, which increased still more his fame and fortune.
A relatively fallow period was succeeded by the great flowering of 1925 to 1934 in the operettas he created for Richard Tauber’s voice - Paganini, The Czarevitch, The Land of Smiles, Friederike, Schön ist die Welt and Giuditta, the last being premièred at the Vienna State Opera. From 1935, Lehár was principally occupied in establishing his publishing house, Glocken Verlag, in Vienna, into which he gathered almost all of his large output.
TOM LEHRERborn 1928
Born in New York City, Lehrer is famous as a writer and performer of satirical songs and sketches (the best-known of which is probably Poisoning Pigeons in the Park), who bravely criticised the American way of life at a time (the 1960s) when McCarthyism was managing to silence many of his contemporaries. He performed his own songs at Harvard for several years prior to his first professional engagement in 1953, at The Blue Angel, a New York nightclub. He worked the nightclub circuit between 1954 and 1958 before emarking on a concert tour of U.S. cities and college towns. He gave a series of Sunday night concerts in London’s West End in 1959 and toured the U.K., Australia and New Zealand in 1960, as well as making a number of appearances on television in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. He retired from performing in 1960, but made a brief comeback in 1965 at a nightclub engagement in San Francisco, where he recorded his last LP, That was the Year that Was..
Mahler had just arrived in Vienna to direct the Hofoper in 1897 after a number of directoral and conducting posts throught Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, when he began an association with Josef Weinberger, who published a number of his early works before ceding all but one (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) to the Universal Edition, which Weinberger himself had helped to found. Mahler’s term of duty at the Hofoper was marked by constant friction and scandals (a regular characteristic of Vienna’s musical life to this day), but was distinguished by exceptionally fine performances.
It was some decades before Mahler’s music came to enjoy the worldwide recognition now accorded to it - indeed, the Oxford Companion to Music, as late as the 1955 edition, remarks patronisibgly that "his symphonies have been taken seriously in Germany and Holland".
Weinberger renewed its valued association with Mahler in the 1980s by publishing his arrangements for string orcestra of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet and Beethoven’s Op. 95 quartet, discovered by the renowned Mahler scholar and biographer Donald Mitchell. Since their rediscovery, both works have been recorded and performed extensively around the world.
PAUL PATTERSONborn 1947
One of the most prominent composers of his generation, Patterson studied trombone and then composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He returned there to become Head of Composition and Contemporary Music until 1997, when he became Manson Professor of Composition. He has also worked with South East Arts, the University of Warwick and the London Sinfonietta and is currently Composer-in-Residence for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
His works are played regularly by leading performers in the United Kingdom and abroad. Most popular among his recent works are the orchestral setting of Roald Dahl’s Little Red Riding Hood and the Violin Concerto. Patterson is an important figure in the choral field and his enthusiasm for music both challenging and enjoyable to performers and audiences has produced a number of important large-scale choral works, notably the Mass of the Sea (1983), Stabat Mater (1986) and Te Deum (1988).
His compositions reveal a preoccupation with unusual combinations of sound and rhythm. Stravinsky and Hindemith were early influences, then the Polish school of Penderecki and Lutoslawski, and more recently thanks to a growing number of commisisons for the likes of the Three Choirs’ Festival, the 20th century English choral tradition. In this latest phase of his career, he seems to have found a language is sufficiently complex while at the same time appealing to the musical public.
Patterson is a tireless advocate for contemporary musicand was honoured with the PRS/RPS Leslie Boosey Award in 1996. In 1997, his 50th Birthday was celebrated by BBC Radio 3 with a Composer of the Week feature. Among recent recording of his works are The Royal Eurostar, written for the State Opening of Waterloo International Station, the Magnificat Op 75 (1994), with the Bach Choir and the Wallace Collection, conducted by Sir David Willcocks, and the Norwegian ensemble BIT 20’s recording of the chamber orchestra version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Having completed a new Gloria for Saddleworth Festival, Patterson is currently working on a work for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a Millenium Mass for Southwell Cathedral and the Orchestra of St. John’s Smith Square, which promises to be performed widely during 2000.
MORRIS PERTborn 1947
Born in Scotland, Pert gained a Trinity College diploma in piano performance, graduated B.Mus from Edinburgh University and went to study composition and percussion with Alan Bush and James Blades at the Royal College of Music. There he won several composition prizes, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 1970 for the orchestral work Xumbu-Ata. A two-year period working with the world-famous Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamash’ta followed, with performances, recordings and musical collaborations in several European music festivals and in Yamash’ta’s own Red Buddha Theatre. This led him to form his own experimental music group, Suntreader, which performed and recorded much of his own and his colleagues’ music .
In the 1970s, Pert was one of the most prominent composers of his generation, receiving regular BBC commissions for large-scale orchestral works, including the first and second symphonies. At the same time, he was one of the foremost percussionists in the world of popular rock music. His serious works draw their inspiration from an eclectic range of sources, but especially from ancient mythology, astronomy and oriental culture.
EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARAborn 1928
Rautavaara, Finland’s pre-eminent living composer, writes in a contemporary but disciplined idiom and has achieved his greatest success in this decade through acclaimed recordings of his large-scale orchestral works. He studied first at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy before going to New York to study with Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions. Since then, he has won many prizes and his works have been featured at ISCM festivals in Strasbourg, Amsterdam and Helsinki. In 1965, he was awarded the Sibelius Prize and in 1971 he received the honorary nomination of Art Professor. He is Professor of Composition at the Sibelius Academy and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Born in Edinburgh, Richardson gained some pianistic experience with the BBC in Edinburgh before moving to London in 1929 to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Harold Craxton. He toured Australia and New Zealand in 1931 and was Carl Flesch’s accompanist from 1936 to 1939.
He wrote a great deal of piano music, including a Sonatina performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1949. Many of his works were given pictorial titles, although these were usually added as afterthoughts. His marriage to the oboist Janet Craxton also inspired him to write a number of important works for that instrument. His style was concise, melodious and polished. He was appointed a Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy, a post he held until his death.
Born in Pressburg, at the time part of Hungary, Schmidt is one of the last great late-Romantic composers. Having shown an early talent as a pianist, he moved to Vienna to study piano, cello and composition and the Conservatoire. His working life was spent as a cellist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra from 1896 to 1911 and as a teacher. He was a Professor of Theory and Piano at the Hochschule für Musik and eventually became Principal of the school. In 1935, he relinquished his teaching posts to dedicate his remaining years to composition. His works include symphonies, oratorios, operas, instrumental pieces for organ and piano and several chamber works, most notably the Piano Quintets he wrote for the one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein (for whom Ravel wrote his Concerto for the Left Hand).
JOHANN STRAUSS II1825-1899
The illustrious son of a distinguished father, Strauss was already an internationally established composer and conductor when he wrote his first stage work, Indigo and the Forty Thieves, at the age of nearly fifty. Die Fledermaus, that classic mixture of wit, romance and sparkling music that set the yardstick for every later operetta, was only his second work in the genre. Thereafter, his comparative lack of innate theatrical feeling led him into problems with his librettists (he is even said to have set all the lyrics of Eine Nacht in Venedig to music before seeing the libretto) and apart from Fledermaus, only Der Zigeunerbaron has held the stage in ts original form.
At the very end of his life, Strauss was writing a full-length ballet, Aschenbrödel, which he neither quite finished nor orchestrated. Also, being no longer strong enough to compose, he agreed to the selection of some existing dances and instrumental compositions to be set to a libretto entitled Wiener Blut, which is still regularly performed in Vienna today and was staged recently in the UK in a new English version by Nigel Douglas. Later re-workings of Strauss operettas included Erich Korngold’s Eine Nacht in Venedig and his collaboration with Max Reinhardt on Die Fledermaus.
JEREMY JAMES TAYLORborn 1948
Jeremy founded the National Youth Music Theatre in 1976 and wrote or co-wrote 24 new music theatre works and directed over 30 productions for the NYMT, including Tin Pan Ali, The Ragged Child, Captain Stirrick and Pendragon, which won Critics’ Choice in the New York Times during its short Broadway season in 1995.
He was Associate Director at the Young Vic from 1975 to 1979. Freelance work includes productions for English National Opera, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, the Royal Academy of Music, the National Theatre of Norway and the Banff Centre in Canada. He has directed young people in Sydney and New Zealand and was responsible for the joint King’s Consort/NYMT production of The Indian Queen in London and Germany.
Has been working professionally as a composer for both the theatre and concert hall since leaving the Royal Northern College of Music in 1989. His works have been performed at the Royal Albert Hall, the Festival Hall, the Cheltenham, Buxton, Edinburgh and Covent Garden festivals and the barn at Beauchamp House, Gloucester, where his musical Whistle Down the Wind began its musical life. Was awarded the Theodore Holland Prize by the Royal Academy of Music and the Silver Medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Born in Warsaw, Tchaikowsky, one of the foremost pianist-composers of his generation, achieved greater success as a performer but yearned to devote more time to composition. He lost both parents during the war, but was smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto and escaped the Nazis. He returned to his homeland after the war to study at Lodz, then spent another period in Paris at the Conservatoire before attending the Warsaw Academy. In 1955, a third prize at the prestigious Chopin Prize helped to launch his solo career, though he continued studying for a time with the pianist Stefan Askenase. He made his American debut in 1957 and his London debut the following year, after which he decided to settle in England. An international solo career followed, his impressively wide repertoire ranging from Bach to Bartók. A subjective artist, he could play with great flair but also with discpiline and restraint, particularly in Mozart, his favourite composer.
In his later years, he devoted a larger proportion of his time to composition: his works include a Piano Concerto premièred by Radu Lupu and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Uri Segal in 1975 and which he also played himself; two string quartets premièred and recorded by the Lindsay Quartet; a clarinet sonata premièred by Gervase de Peyer; a song cycle, Ariel, based on Shakespeare; and in the last weeks of his life, he was working on orchestrating the final pages of a full-length on The Merchant of Venice, to which he had devoted many years’ work.
A widely-read intellectual, he had a profound knowledge of Shakespeare in particular and of French, English and European literature generally. He had eccentric sense of humour, reflected in an unusual gesture he made in his will: he donated his skull for use in stage productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
ERNEST TOMLINSONborn 1924
Born in Lancashire, Tomlinson has long been one of the leading figures in the field of light music, both as composer and conductor (he had his own orchestra, which broadcast regularly, in the 1950s).. He broke into broadcasting as an arranger of traditional melodies, but his own compositions soon began to feature, of which the Little Serenade became the most popular. He has directed choirs for many years, been a composer-director of the Performing Right Society since 1965, won two Ivor Novello Awards (one for his ballet Aladdin, the other for services to light music) and founded The Library of Light Orchestral Music in 1984, a collection housing some 10,000 pieces, including many that would otherwise have been lost.
Born in Lincoln, Vinter was one of the finest conductors in the radio field during his day, and one of the foremost composers of contemporary brass music. A chorister at Lincoln Cathedral, he then studied bassoon at the Royal Academy of Music, later becoming a Professor and Fellow of the Academy. He joined the BBC’s military band in 1930 and after war service conducted the RAF Coastal Command Band. He conducted the Midland Light Orchestra from 1946 until his death. A prolific composer of brass music, he also wrote orchestral and choral works, ballet music and an opera. His cantata The Trumpets, scored for the rare combination of choir and brass band, is still performed today.
MALCOLM WILLIAMSONborn 1931
Born in Sydney, Williamson studied piano, violin and french horn at Sydney Conservatorium and later composition with Sir Eugene Goossens before travelling to London in 1950 to continue his studies with Elizabeth Lutyens and Erwin Stein. He settled permanently in London in 1952 and was a noted pianist and organist by his early twenties. His first works were published with the help of Benjamin Britten and Sir Adrian Boult.
Williamson’s musical inspiration springs both from a deep knowledge of the fields of man’s intellectual endeavour and from his own deep-rooted religious and humanitarian convictions. The variety and breadth of his music is enormous and there is virtually no musical genre in which he has not been active. His reputation was established in the 1960s, a decade in which he wrote prolifically: three operas for Sadler’s Wells Opera (Our Man in Havana, The Violins of St. Jacques and Lucky Peter’s Journey), Sinfonietta for the Royal Ballet, commissions for the BBC Proms and for Aldeburgh, Bath and Cheltenham Festivals, and the Symphony No. 2 for Constantin Silvestri and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
In 1975, Williamson was named as the new Master of the Queen’s Music in succession to Arthur Bliss and in 1976, he was awarded the CBE. 1981, his 60th birthday year, was marked by a great many performances, the highlight of which was the simultaneous Radio 3 and BBC 2 broadcast of the monumental Mass of Christ the King. The years since have seen regular performances of his music at the BBC Proms and several large-scale orchestral commissions.
ALAN WILSONborn 1947
Born in Nottingham, Wilson won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music at the age of 17, where he obtained his ARCM and LRAM diplomas. He attended several composition classes with Nadia Boulanger and on a further scholarship went to the Amsterdam Conservatoire to study the techniques of early keyboard music with Gustav Leonhardt. He soon became widely known as a keyboard player with early music groups such as the Consort of Musicke and the Noyse of Musitians. From 1974 to 1986 he was Director of Music at the University Church of Christ the King, writing much music for the Church Choir, which toured frequently in the UK and Germany. He began to receive commissions and wrote the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music. After leaving the university church, he became Director of Music at Queen Mary College in east London and at the famous "Bow Bells" church of St. Mary-le-Bow, and founded his own choir, the Alan Wilson Singers. He regularly directs and composes for BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service.
Wilson’s compositional style is influenced particularly by early baroque music and by contemporary popular and folk idioms, while remaining closely linked to the Anglican choral tradition. At the heart of his Communion settings is a strong desire to bring choir and congregation together as equal participants in musical worship. His four popular settings for Rite A range from the cathedral-like Mass of Light to the simple congregational Mass of All Saints and the exuberant rock-mass Mass of Regeneration.
His interest in the keyboard extends to the experimental sounds of the modern synthesizer and he has been a driving force in the use of synthesizers in church worship. The Magnificant and Nunc Dimittis, scored for choir and organ, had an optional synthesizer part, and Wilson went a step further in the Mass of the Holy Trinity (another commission for the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music) by writing for two synthesizers and using a range of sounds and effects not previously heard in the cathedral.
Wilson’s popular series of morning and evening canticles Christus Rex and his four volumes of Seasonal Carols are his thoughtful and highly effective answer to the changing styles of musical worship.
Born in Venice to a German father and an Italian mother, this duality had a strong influence on Wolf-Ferrari’s life. He showed great talent from an early age and his father, a painter, trained him in the arts of painting and drawing. He began piano lessons at the age of six, but after four years outgrew his teacher. His father took him to Munich in 1892 to attend the Holosy School of Painting, but soon realised that his son’s true vocation was music. In the autumn of the same year, he passed the entrance examination for Josef Rheinberger’s counterpoint class and had his first composition, a Serenade for string orchestra, performed at the Odeon in Munich. From 1982 to 1895, he studied at the Academy of Music and after graduating returned to Venice, where he composed his first opera, Irene, which remains incomplete and unperformed to this day.
At 21, he found a position as a chorus director in Milan and started work on La Cenerentola (Cinderella), which took him three years to complete. It was first performed in Venice in 1900, but was received unfavourably. He returned to Munich to compose and the German première of Cenerentola in Bremen in 1902 was, however, a great success. This contrast between the reception his works received in Germany and Italy was a source of considerable agitation to him and led him to spend most of the rest of his life in Germany, although homesickness brought him home toVenice from time to time. He became the director of the Conservatorium in Venice in 1902, a post he held until 1909, but left for Munich in that year and settled there.
He achieved his greatest successes with sparkling stage comedies like The Inquisitive Women, The School for Fathers and the one-act Susanna’s Secret, the latter of which is still staged regularly today. Wolf-Ferrari’s own personal favourite among his operas, Das Himmelskleid (The Garment of the Sky) has recently been recorded for the first time at the Theater Hagen’s excellent revival by Marco Polo.
In 1947, back in Venice, he began to write his last symphonic work, The Churches of Venice, but he died before completing it, shortly after his 72nd birthday.