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Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)

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Author Topic: Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)  (Read 338 times)
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« on: August 26, 2013, 02:39:48 pm »

Bliss is "out of fashion" Sad

What does that mean and what are the implications Huh It means that his music is shunned in the concert-hall and new recordings(as opposed to re-issues) are thin on the ground. Bliss is seldom mentioned in discussion of British Music in the 20th century.

He has in point of fact fared better than a number of the members of the next generation of composers who followed him(Bliss was born in 1891). There are recordings of most of his major works-with the exception of the later choral work: the Cantatas "Mary of Magdala" and "The Golden Cantata". One can only speculate, but if Richard Hickox had not died so tragically early then he might have recorded these for Chandos. Instead, Chandos appears to have gone cool on recording new British music, preferring to get Andrew Davis to record Elgar and Delius.

Bliss falls into a strange no-man's land, falling short of the pre-eminence of Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams, Britten, and lacking the apparent allure of a number of more "exotic" neglected composers born in the late 19th century-Havergal Brian, Cyril Scott, York Bowen etc. His reputation seems to be diminished rather than enhanced by his role as a distinguished and respected position as a prominent figure in the musical Establishment of his time-as Master of the Queen's Music in succession to Sir Arnold Bax. In contrast to Bax, say, he has no colourful private live to describe, he is very much the conventional upper middle-class British composer who just fails to achieve "greatness" in his music. He is too mainstream for a company like Dutton-because his music IS already on cd but is not regarded as appealing enough to programme in concert.

He is not however alone. Walton's music is currently suffering in a similar way. As happened in his own lifetime(to his severe disappointment!) Britten's music, driven by the superbly efficient "publicity machine" Britten so carefully built up during his own lifetime, remains in the public eye whilst Walton's is now rather neglected.

Will the swings of musical fashion bring the music of Arthur Bliss back Huh I have absolutely no idea Smiley
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