Sunday, 12 November 2017

12th November 2017 Remembrance Sunday

"They are at rest" Edward Elgar (1857-1934)  Words by Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

The following was  taken from Oxford Choral Classics sheet music.

Elgar is recognised, along with Parry and Stanford,  as one of the outstanding British composers of the period around 1900, and a leader of the so-called English Musical Renaissance, this was a rebirth of internationally significant composition in Britain after almost two centuries of relative insularity and mediocrity.  Choral music formed a significant part of Elgar's output, both on a large scale in his oratorios and cantatas and also in his fairly numerous smaller pieces.  Most of these were secular part-songs, but there is also a modest quantity of sacred music (Elgar was a Roman Catholic, and as such was not often invited or obliged to write for the Anglican Liturgy).

They are at rest described by the composer as an "elegy for unaccompanied chorus" was written at the peak of Elgar's artistic maturity in 1909. The occasion was a service at the Royal Mausoleum in Windsor commemorating the anniversary of Queen Victoria's death.  For its text Elgar turned to Cardinal Newman (whose poem The Dream of Gerontius had formed the basis of Elgar's great oratorio of 1900). The quiet, reverent dignity of the piece bears witness to the seriousness with which Elgar took the choral medium; and the wealth of detailed markings in the score indicates the importance he attached to meticulous and expressive performance.
Edward Elgar [Wikimedia Commons]

Friday, 10 November 2017

5th November 2017 All Saints

"Give us the wings of faith" by Ernest Bullock, words Isaac Watts.

This anthem was written for All Saints' Day, the words from a hymn by Isaac Watts.

Sir Ernest Bullock (1890-1979) was not primarily a composer, but an educationalist and organist.  He was born in Wigan, where he became organist at his parish church. He was then assistant organist at Leeds Parish Church in 1907.  In 1908, he received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Durham, gaining his Doctor of Music in 1914. In 1912, he was assistant organist at Manchester Cathedral.  After WW1 he was organist at St Michael's College, Tenbury, almost immediately moving to Exeter as cathedral organist in 1919.  In 1928 he succeeded Sir Sidney Nicholson as Master of Choristers in Westminster Abbey.  He provided music for the coronation of King George VI, writing most of the fanfares for that and also the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.
 In 1941, Bullock went to Glasgow as the Gardiner Professor in Music at the university. In 1952 he became director of the Royal College of Music.  He was knighted in 1951 and he retired in 1960.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was born in Southampton, the son of a committed religious nonconformist. His father, also Isaac was twice incarcerated for his beliefs.  He received a classical education at the King Edward VI school, but was barred from attending Oxford or Cambridge universities as they were restricted to Anglicans. He went to the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690. He was pastor of a large independent chapel in London where he helped train preachers.  However, his religious opinions were more ecumenical than was usual for a nonconformist. He promoted education and scholarship rather than preaching for a particular sect. He is famous for the writing of the words of hymns. He promoted hymn singing and his prolific hymn-writing helped to usher in a new era of English worship.
Isaac Watts, by unknown artist {Wikimedia commons]