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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)


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Author Topic: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)  (Read 1294 times)
Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« on: January 27, 2021, 11:31:02 pm »

I have long been a fan of C-T's music and strongly recommend the complete recording of The Song of Hiawatha, Op.30 (1898-1900), the Ballade in A minor, Op.33 (1898) and the Symphonic Variations on an African Air, Op.63 (1906), all recorded originally on Decca/ Argo, together with the Violin Concerto, Op.80 (1912) on either Hyperion or Lyrita.

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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)

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Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2021, 07:10:07 am »

Here is an interesting documentary on Coleridge-Taylor's relationship with America:



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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2021, 12:27:20 pm »

I love a great deal of his music. I would make a special mention of the Clarinet Quintet, whose slow movement in particular is absolutely exquisite.The Violin Concerto I think shows what he might have done had he lived longer.
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2021, 12:44:16 pm »

I love a great deal of his music. I would make a special mention of the Clarinet Quintet, whose slow movement in particular is absolutely exquisite.The Violin Concerto I think shows what he might have done had he lived longer.

It's a toss-up for the Violin Concerto: with Hyperion you get the Arthur Somervell Concerto (1930) as a companion, with Lyrita you get C-T's equally lovely Legend, Op.14 (1897) and Romance, Op.39 (1899)...

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Go on, you know you really want both discs.

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Also, try to listen to the rhapsodic dance The Bamboula, Op.75 (1910) which was recorded, alongside a splendid performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with Kenneth Alwyn conducting the Bournemouth SO, by EMI back in 1984.

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2021, 02:14:11 am »

I just recently heard a performance of his Nonet on the local radio out here in Charlotte (WDAV out of Davidson College) and was wowed by a work that he composed when he was all of 18.
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2021, 05:40:53 am »

I just recently heard a performance of his Nonet on the local radio out here in Charlotte (WDAV out of Davidson College) and was wowed by a work that he composed when he was all of 18.

As with that of his even-more-short-lived friend William Hurlstone (1876-1906), Coleridge-Taylor's chamber music is highly accomplished and extremely attractive.

There is an invaluable Ph.D thesis on Coleridge-Taylor by Catherine Carr (Durham University, 2005) in which the author describes how her research unearthed the previously-thought-lost opera Thelma.

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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2021, 12:25:31 pm »

Very interesting. Would it be possible to have details of the performers? I'm particularly curious about the Sorrow Songs, since some time ago I recorded on Sheva, with a mezzo-soprano, what I believed was the first recording of this cycle, so is yours from a disc I didn't know about or from a broadcast? In any case, I would be glad to know who the excellent tenor is. The cycle was also sung at the Wigmore Hall last year by Elizabeth Llewellen. A gorgeous voice but all a bit too fast and easy-flowing for me.
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2021, 01:37:21 pm »

Very interesting. Would it be possible to have details of the performers? I'm particularly curious about the Sorrow Songs, since some time ago I recorded on Sheva, with a mezzo-soprano, what I believed was the first recording of this cycle, so is yours from a disc I didn't know about or from a broadcast? In any case, I would be glad to know who the excellent tenor is. The cycle was also sung at the Wigmore Hall last year by Elizabeth Llewellen. A gorgeous voice but all a bit too fast and easy-flowing for me.

Hi Chris, it is from a 1985 broadcast - details are in the Catalogue of the British and Irish Music Archive housed within this forum (see my initial post in British and Irish Music on the Downloads (by nationality) board, follow the mediafire link and scroll down to the bottom of the folder).

If you are indeed Chris Howell, as an excellent pianist and staunch advocate of British music you are very welcome on the forum! Would you consider a disc (or discs) of Cowen's piano music and transcriptions: The Months, A Phantasy of Life and Love, Coronation March, Four Dances in the Olden Style, A Suite of Old English Dances and In Fairyland (I have added all these to IMSLP). I also have copies of The Language of Flowers Suites 1 and 2 but haven't uploaded these as I cannot scan folio-size. I've only recently managed to find a copy of Book 4 (October to December) of The Months...

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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2021, 06:17:44 pm »

Yes, I am the Chris Howell of the various discs of Stanford, Mackenzie and a few others.

I'd certainly be interested in doing some Cowen. It's great news that you've found the last volume of The Months, but is it on IMSLP yet? This would surely have to be the centrepiece of any Cowen CD.
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2021, 06:27:23 pm »

Hi Chris, great to hear from you again. I've just found a copy of Book 4 online and ordered it to complete my set, although with the way things are it may be some time before it arrives - they are lovely and often quite challenging pieces which I enjoy playing myself.

Nobody seems to know if they were originally conceived for piano and then orchestrated or vice versa, but either way they are certainly worth reviving.

The transcriptions (e.g. those of A Phantasy of Life and Love and the Theme and Variations finale from A Suite of Old English Dances) are a bit of a handful but idiomatic for the keyboard, and were apparently often made by Cowen himself, as were the vocal scores of the choral works and operas. This is music that deserves to be heard in whatever form it can be presented...

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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2021, 04:07:24 am »

I have been listening to Sargent's 1930 recording of Coleridge-Taylor's Death of Minnehaha. Almost every page of it paints heart-rending emotions and images that -- I admit it unashamedly -- leave me completely wrung out. Give me Coleridge-Taylor rather than any amount of over-blown verismo opera any day!

Over two successive issues of the Musical Times (November-December 1899) August Jaeger ("Nimrod") published a detailed and gushing analysis. When Elgar become jealous of Coleridge-Taylor's success and cast him off, Jaeger followed suit.

Reviewing the first performance at the North Staffordshire Festival in the December issue, "Our Special Correspondent" reported that

"There was a Gargantuan programme that lasted four hours by the clock, and 'The Death of Minnehaha' came last. Yet such was the spell that Mr. Coleridge-Taylor's music cast over the large audience that not a soul, from her Grace the Duchess of Sutherland to the humblest amateur in the gallery, moved before the last chord of this beautiful work was drowned in a spontaneous and splendid ovation for the happy young composer. This little work worked a great wonder: we saw grey-bearded critics moved to tears, and there were many in the audience who made no attempt to hide their emotion. Whoever can do this with the force of his simple melodies is no ordinary musician. We seem to posses in Mr. Taylor that rara avis, a new and original melodist. A new melodist!"

No wonder that Sullivan, after hearing the first performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast under Stanford at the RCM in 1898, noted in his diary that he was

"Much impressed by the lad's genius. He is a composer not a music-maker. The music is fresh and original - he has melody and harmony in abundance, and his scoring is brilliant and full of colour [coming from Sullivan this was some compliment] - at times luscious, rich and sensual."

Similar public responses (especially in America) greeted The Atonement, the Five Choral Ballads and A Tale of Old Japan...

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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2021, 10:10:46 am »

[
Similar public responses (especially in America) greeted The Atonement, the Five Choral Ballads and A Tale of Old Japan...

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It's good to know that there are a few of us advocates for Coleridge-Taylor out there. I like to think that my late friend and partner in publishing, Patrick Meadows, and I had a little to do with the recent resurgence in interest in SC-T's music, having produced full scores and parts of several of his works that were languishing in manuscript. Had Patrick not taken his farewell in 2017, we might have got around to investigating The Atonement. Although printed string parts exist, we couldn't track down the rest of the performing materals and assumed that they had gone the way of much of Novello's hire library. However, the manuscript of the full score is extant so there would have been no bar to producing sets of band parts. Likewise, A Tale of Old Japan, although rumor has it that those parts did survive and are hiding somewhere. The orchestral vesion of the Five Choral Ballads is probably a lost cause, however. The work was published by Breitkopf & Härtel and it's likely that all performing materials were destroyed in World War II bombing. I know that some of B&H's archival materials are in the State Archives in Leipzig (part of the Saxon State Archives) but I have never investigated whether SC-T's manuscript or parts are there. With Patrick gone and my eye-sight and attention spans both diminshing with increasing age, there'd be no point. Maybe someone younger can pick up this baton.

On the subject of "younger", it has done my old heart good to see what Chi-chi Nwanoku has done in her founding of the Chineke! orchestra. Given their Mission, "to provide outstanding career opportunities to established and up-and-coming Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe", it's not surprising that they have been doing their bit for SC-T. For example, there's  a blistering performance of the op 33 Ballade in A Minor conducted by Wayne Marshall on Youtube that everyone should hear!

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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2021, 11:44:41 am »

I had a little to do with the recent resurgence in interest in SC-T's music, having produced full scores and parts of several of his works that were languishing in manuscript. Maybe someone younger can pick up this baton

Bless you, Lionel, for all this hard work over the years. I've contacted the Longfellow Chorus in the USA to see if they would be interested in commissioning a re-orchestration of all of the Five Choral Ballads along the lines of that which has been done for The Quadroon Girl...

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There is a large amount of C-T at the RCM in addition manuscripts (mostly ex-Novello, as you say - another publisher culpable for wanton destruction, vide Lewis Foreman, full score proofs annotated by Dvorak, etc., put out for the bin-men). So, as in another thread, we must be eternally grateful for a published vocal score...

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For the baton to be passed, reliable information has to be disseminated...

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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2021, 11:53:32 am »

we might have got around to investigating The Atonement. Although printed string parts exist, we couldn't track down the rest of the performing materals and assumed that they had gone the way of much of Novello's hire library.

As you know, it was customary to print string parts simply because of the large number required for a full orchestra, but all the rest were usually hand-copied: whenever I encounter a vocal score (which is fairly often, lol), as advertised by the original publisher, I always dread the line "wind parts in MS"...

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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2021, 12:18:06 pm »

we might have got around to investigating The Atonement. Although printed string parts exist, we couldn't track down the rest of the performing materals and assumed that they had gone the way of much of Novello's hire library.

As you know, it was customary to print string parts simply because of the large number required for a full orchestra, but all the rest were usually hand-copied: whenever I encounter a vocal score (which is fairly often, lol), as advertised by the original publisher, I always dread the line "wind parts in MS"...

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