Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

Dr Michael Hooper

I am a performer and musicologist.

For details of my activites and to hear recordings please visit: www.hoopermusic.com

This is the blog for my research into the two Wardour Castle Summer Schools, which took place in 1964 and 1965. One of the motivations for this research came from my doctoral studies of the music of David Lumsdaine. Over the period of that study (2004-2008) I became increasingly aware of how little published material exists that details events in the music life of the 1960s. This blog charts some of the research that I am undertaking to contribute to the documentation of that time. It is one part of a research project that also seeks to detail the SPNM Composer Weekends that were founded by Anthony Gilbert, David Lumsdaine and Don Banks and which ran from 1967.

For those who took part in these events, this blog no doubt appears woefully lacking in information – addressing this issue is the motivation for the blog. So, post comments or email me with the information that you think I ought to know.

P1080929

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Roger Smalley

I met with Roger Smalley in Glebe, Sydney, 7 April, 2010. I interviewed him partly for his recollections as a participant at the WCSS and partly to find out more about his performance there in 1965. As a member of the Composers’ Ensemble he performed in one of the last concerts on the 1965 programme, which was a substantially different to the other concerts. It consisted of Cage, Feldman, Cardew, Messiaen, Stockhausen and one of Smalley’s compositions, Two Poems of D. H. Lawrence.

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Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Royal Musical Association

The following paper was given at the Royal Musical Association’s annual conference, 16 July 2010.

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Peter Maxwell Davies

On 7 June, 2010 I went to the Royal Academy of Music to interview Peter Maxwell Davies about his involvement at the WCSSs.

Was there some need that the WCSSs filled?


(LS100098, 25’50”)

The following comment about optimism goes to the atmosphere of the events:

(LS100098, 16’00”)

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Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, , , , , , , , ,

Caroline Mustill (Phillips) and Stephen Pruslin

Given that the WCSSs took place in a school, this post contains important information from the perspective of Caroline Mustill, who was a student at Cranborne Chase for both events. Mustill’s significance to this project, however, goes far further than her teenage years, since, for example, she managed the Pierrot Players, and has also been close to Birtwistle, Davies and many other prominent artists since the 1960s. When I approached Mustill she suggested that I interview Stephen Pruslin too, and I am grateful to her for organising our three-way meeting.

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Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, General details of the Summer Schools, Legacy of the WCSSs, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, , , , , , , , , , ,

Michael Nyman

Further to my earlier post about Michael Nyman’s ‘creative impasse’ (as Pwyll ap Siôn called it). This from Tom Sutcliffe in 1984:

[....]

Nyman was born in 1944 and went to school up in Walthamstow where he started making a bit of pocket money as a music copyist when he was 13 or 14. He had an excellent hand. He was at the Royal Academy of Music before becoming one of [Thurston] Dart’s musicology students. He had four or five compositions performed in the early Sixties, at least one at an Arts Council-sponsored concert. It was like a cross between Shostakovich and Hindemith.

When he went to the Warour Castle Summer School in 1965, and listened to lectures by Alexander Goehr and met the new, serially-committed generation of young British composers. He left Wardour convinced of the error of his former tonal ways of composition, sat down and started to write serial music, got as far as about 12 bars, and gave up altogether. He felt if he couldn’t be serial he couldn’t be a composer.

Dat proposed he go abroad for a year, put him in the way of a British Council exchange with Romania, and suggested he study folk music there. It was the idea antidote to Wardour. European art music was not the only kind worth taking seriously.

[....]

Tom Sutcliffe, The Guardian, July 20, 1984, 9.

Of course, all my sources for this information, though not directly citing each other, may be apocryphal. It reminds me as I am preparing to interview Davies of the importance of asking questions that have already been answered to provide alternate sources for future scholarship.

Filed under: Other information, Who was there?,

Two Reviews

Here are two reviews of the Melos Ensemble’s London performance of Birtwistle’s Tragoedia and Davies’s In Nomines, from December 1965.

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Composers at School – Meirion Bowen

The 1965 WCSS received a particularly interesting review from Meirion Bowen (written 2 years he first met Michael Tippett). The article is notable for its review of the discussions that took place at Wardour regarding drama in music. It represents an early account of the event and channels the significance of the discussion that took place, even if Bowen would have rathered composers who explored ‘objectively the various issues.’ It’s also an account that aligns with Anthony Gilbert’s comments that the WCSSs were where ‘a whole new set of conventions were drafted’, especially when Bowen comments that the discussion was a ‘search for new idioms’ and a ‘new musical language’.

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Northcott’s general comments

I asked Northcott about the motivation for starting the WCSSs, and why they were needed when Dartington and Darmstadt were already running:

(LS100049, 1:05’53”)

(LS100049, 1:12’13”)

Having gone through the concert programme, Northcott moved on to his memories of the other classes and activities from the 1965 school. Maxwell Davies’ analysis classes included Bach Inventions, Pierrot Lunaire and the first movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony, all as advertised.


(LS100049, 1:48’34”)

There are some implications of his teaching of Mahler 3 that will become apparent in my review of Peter Maxwell Davies Studies to be published in Music & Letters.

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, ,

Gilbert and Lumsdaine

It was Anthony Gilbert who in various ways first prompted this research. Gilbert’s interview with Michael Hall that Hall quoted in his book* was the first mention of the WCSSs that I read, and remains one of the most significant passages on the topic in the published literature. Gilbert’s look of incredulity at my lack of knowledge of events from the 1960s spurred me to the particular research of this blog, and he had repeatedly offered to talk to me about the events. When I finally contacted him to make a date for this interview, he suggested including his old friend David Lumsdaine (who Gilbert first met at Wardour) and so the recorded conversation took place in York, with Gilbert travelling there from Manchester. This paragraph is a prolix way of saying that ‘I’m very grateful’.

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Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, How was it funded?, Legacy of the WCSSs, Other information, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PMD

My copy of Peter Maxwell Davies Studies, edited by Kenneth Gloag and Nicholas Jones just arrived and I turned immediately to the index to look for ‘Wardour Castle Summer School’. There are two entries, both in the chapter by Philip Grange ‘Peter Maxwell Davies at Dartington: the composer as teacher’. The first reference is as follows, with Grange outlining the summer schools at which Maxwell Davies has taught:

Most notable among the summer schools have been the Wardour Castle Summer School of Music, a joint venture that Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and Alexander Goehr undertook in 1964 and 1965′. (217) Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Legacy of the WCSSs, , , , , , ,

Harrison Birtwistle Interview

In December I travelled to Wiltshire to interview Harrison Birtwistle.

I began by asking some specific questions about serialism and whether or not it was a concept that was ‘vetoed’ as Anthony Gilbert had suggested to me that it had been. (The interview with Gilbert will be posted soon.) Not gaining much of a response beyond  ‘I don’t know’ I outlined something of the level of detail I knew about the events, filling in space much as I am as I write this, hoping for a topic that most piqued his interest. It seems that Birtwistle is good at forgetting, which, as this week’s obituary for Alexander Piatigorsky reminded me, is ‘essential’. Read the rest of this entry »

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Copyright

One of the issues that is raised by making information publicly available through this medium is that of copyright. I earlier posted tangentially about copyright, when I made reference to Chris Anderson and suggested that one of the topics that this blog will explore is that of scholarly publishing. This blog is not in the typical sense peer reviewed, though each post has room for comments to be left by any who care to do so. For the most recent interviews I have made the presence of the blog known to the interviewee, who, if they are so desirous, can peruse the contents of the blog and comment as they wish. I have posted on Bayan Northcott’s engagement with this blog immediate before our interview, and the effect that it had on the subsequent discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Comments by Bayan Northcott on the 1965 WCSS

Speaking with Bayan Northcott uncovered a wealth of information about the WCSSs and the period in which they occurred. This post draws together some clips from the interview. The interview progressed with Northcott going through his diary.

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Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Interviews, What music was performed?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments by Bayan Northcott on the 1964 WCSS

Speaking with Bayan Northcott uncovered a wealth of information about the WCSSs and the period in which they occurred. This post draws together some clips from the interview. The interview progressed with Northcott going through his diary.

He began with some contextual remarks about the scene, and the position of Maxwell Davies, Birtwistle and Goehr.

First a comment about the number of people in attendence:

(LS100049, 1’53”) Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, General details of the Summer Schools, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1964 Programme of Concerts and Lectures

The following is the contents of the 1964 Programme, held by Bayan Northcott and photographed when I visited him.
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Bayan Northcott

When I first made contact with Bayan Northcott I gave him the address of this blog. On the morning of our meeting (19 November 2009) I noticed a sharp increase in the traffic of this site, and I suspected that perhaps Northcott was the cause. When I arrived at his flat he showed me through to his kitchen where on the table was a laptop, with this blog open. His first words were ‘I think I can fill in some of Hugh Wood’s gaps in memory’ and ‘please record this if you wish’. He had read by post about Hugh Wood and my questions about the ethics of this research methodology. A number of times during the interview he said ‘I am going to have to trust you [not to make public every comment I make]‘. Clearly this trust arose in no small part from the contents of my previous posts. It is heartening to see that the methodology is proceeding as might be predicted, and that the potential for this open way of working to form the trust of a community of interrelated people was, at least for this one interview, being realized.

This stage of trust typically arises in response to previously published work, either in the form of other studies made by the researcher that establish a reputation, or in direct response to the research at hand, in the form of a post-publication revisiting.

There is also another, potentially less positive, side to this situation, since Northcott’s first words (that gaps as exposed in the blog can be filled) shapes the information that he gives. In this regard I am fortunate that Northcott had kept a diary for the duration of the WCSSs and that the interview followed his entries alongside the concert programmes. This focussed the interview as an interaction designed to give me as complete a picture as possible of the events as they unfolded. I am also grateful for the generous time that Northcott devoted to the discussion, which meant that a whole range of subjects could be covered, in some cases for multiple times (each with new information and ideas). In any case, the shaping of new information due to past research is one of the primary ideas charted by the methodology of this blog.

Northcott’s diary is clearly an excellent resource, which enabled him to provide unprecedented detail of the WCSSs. It is a document of which I have no copy:

(LS100049, 16’09”)

Filed under: Interviews, Methodology,

RAM talk, or methodology v

I gave the following talk at the RAM’s seminar on Friday 6 November 2009. This is the text used. The line in the middle indicates the place where I spoke about my other methodology, which was drawn from my earlier posts here about methodology.

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1965 Concert Programme with comments

1965 Programme of Concerts submitted to the Arts Council. (ACGB/51/265; see 1)

The comments are those by Hugh Wood. As further composers are interviewed their comments will be added alongside those by Wood.

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A concert, but when?

When I visited Hugh Wood, he showed me two typed pages, one of which had the programme for the Nocturnal concert, Friday 21 August 1964. There was also a concert that Wood insists took place, but which isn’t listed in any of the other literature I have for the events. This was the programme:

Music for a film scene [sic] Schoenberg

Canzona II David Ellis

Movement Neville Gambier

Castle Music Anthony Gilbert

Little Music for Strings Michael Tippett

Serenade Op.11 Brahms

This is a fascinating programme, and it includes works by Ellis and Gilbert no longer in their catalogue. Hopefully my meeting with Anthony Gilbert will clear up whether or not this took place, and if it did, its date, location and performers. I still have little idea who Neville Gambier was.

The following clip is Wood’s reaction to this concert, making clear his memory of its occurrence, and on the difficulty of clarifying the details of the programme.

(LS100044: 51’10”)

Further to this post, this list of works is part of the participants’ concert given on the final evening. For more details see this post.

Filed under: What music was performed?, , , , , ,

Other attendees?

According to Michael Hall, the following people were also there (in addition to my earlier post):

1964:

Roger Smalley, John Bulley (sp?), Bill Hopkins, Robin Holloway, David Ellis, David Bedford, Edward Cowie, Brian Ferneyhough?.

1965:

Bayan Northcott, Stephen Arnold, William Coates, Brian Ferneyhough.

Filed under: Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , ,

1964 Concert Programme with comments

1964 Programme of Concerts as given in the publicity leaflet, a copy of which was given to me by Michael Hall. The comments are those by Hugh Wood. As further composers are interviewed their comments will be added alongside those by Wood.

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Flyers/Programme 1965

Michael Hall gave me copies of two flyers, one for each of the two WCSSs. The 1964 is the material posted here. I had paid far less attention to the 1965 flyer, since I already had this information from the concert programme. Or so I thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hugh Wood

On Thursday, 29th October I visited Hugh Wood at his London home, to speak with him about his experience and memory of the WCSSs. I recorded, with permission, the interview. Meeting Wood was thoroughly enjoyable and he lived up to his reputation as charming, intelligent and thoughtful. His memories will enlighten my research, and over the coming months more details of the events will be posted. This post, like the initial post regarding Michael Hall, will focus on the ethics of recording and publishing the interview.

At the outset I asked if it would be alright to record, and Wood agreed.

Late in the conversation I mentioned that there were ethical issues with me making a recording. His response was ‘oh that’s nice of you to say’. Then the following took place:

(LS100045; from 35’55”)

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1964 Programme of Concerts

1964 Programme of Concerts as given in the publicity leaflet, a copy of which was given to me by Michael Hall.

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Michael Hall

I had a meeting with Michael Hall at his house in Exeter on Monday, 26th October. It was particularly worthwhile. Firstly because my recorder functioned perfectly. Secondly because of the wealth of useful information that Hall provided. He also gave me an excerpt from the book he is working on at the moment, which details Birtwistle’s theatre music and its genesis at Cranborne Chase. Future posts will deal with this, though for the details you will have to wait for the book to be published.

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blind but not deaf: methodology iv

I have organized a series of interviews over the next few weeks and so needed some new equipment for documenting these. Much has changed since the last time I bought a portable recording device, including the prevalence of very portable high quality video and audio equipment and the dissolution of low end and professional quality gear (see, for example, the Tascam DR-100). In the end the decision was based on what I didn’t want to record. My worry with this project is that I will accumulate too much data that I have neither the time nor expertise to adequately process, leading to a situation where I fall back on old habits, clichéd categorisations and the like. With a project based on events that occurred more than forty years ago, the accuracy of memory of those who attended is going to be a major factor, and one that I am keen to construct as a positive part of the research process, such that the study informs a broader understanding of a cultural memory for these events. The blog so far has detailed what exists in written publications and the questions that I am formulating for the forthcoming interviews are based on the extent of those documents. To an extent about which I cannot be precise, loss of memory of details and the unmemorability of the events are entangled. Read the rest of this entry »

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5/6 concerts and the Arts Council’s guarantee

Following the submission of the accounts for the 1965 series of concerts was correspondence between the Arts Council and the H.O. Young, the treasurer of the WCSS.

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Accounts for 1965

1965 Accounts

The following are excerpts from the 1965 Certified Statement of Accounts, held at the V&A (ACGB/51/1265)

It is curious that no payment was made for music hire… It is also interesting to see the insistence with which the Arts Council corrects the accounts to conform to their commitment to guarantee 5 concerts and not six. There seems to have been a close eye kept on ensuring that the support the arts council gave was transparent and not confused with overall support for the summer school. One thinks of how rarely the arts council is credited as such in today’s concert programmes, where, instead, an arts council logo appears alongside other supporters. The full amount of the guarantee was paid, since the reduced deficit was still more than double the guarantee.

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1965 budget

The V&A archive (ACGB/51/1265) contains the accounts for the 1964 and 1965 summer schools and a budget for the 1965 event. I have posted the 1964 accounts here.

One of my research questions considers ways in which these summer schools were funded, and how this reflects prestige, as well as indicating the priorities of the events. Here is the budget for the 1965 events.

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Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, How was it funded?, What music was performed?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More files from the V&A

I have made further visits to the V&A with little further success, save this gem, from well outside the period of this research, about Cardew:

12th Meeting of the British Selection of International Society for Contemporary Music

10 June 1974, proposal for 1974/75

Cornelius Cardew

It was noted that the proposed discussions were likely to be largely political and that the three organisations involved should be advised to insist on at least some minimum performance of music. (ACB/51/272)

I wonder what the response was?

Opening a file from the Arts Council. If I show you more I could be sued! (Very boring contents though...)

Opening a file from the Arts Council. If I show you more I could be sued! (Very boring contents though...)

Filed under: Unrelated to research,

More methodology

Part of the theoretical basis for deciding to undertake this research by way of the medium of a blog was to explore the potentially-collaborative, connective nature of the medium as a way of disseminating ideas about these events, of placing the scarcity of published writing about the events at the fore of the research, of positioning my lack of knowledge as a potentially positive aspect of the research, and of embedding the research within a critical discourse wherein aside from the mode of research my be naïve, misguided, progressive, or experimental, as many of its aspects as possible are available for comment. The specific forms of this medium allows easy tracking of such comments, implicit or explicit, with alerts extending to, for example, linkbacks. The extent to which the basis for choosing this medium is complicated by what I sense to be some reluctance to make overt, public criticism is becoming more apparent, and therefore it’s appropriate and useful to add this post. As much as I am curious about the events that took place at Wardour Castle I am curious as to why they have received little published attention. I am interested in the impact that the hegemonies operating within scholarly publishing, promotion in the music industry, and such have in shaping the access to materials about these events and the people who were participants. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Methodology, , , ,

1965 Concert Programme

1965 Programme of Concerts submitted to the Arts Council following their support of some of the concerts in the series. More on that later. One of the aims of this research was to make accessible information of the kind present here. There are some fascinating concerts, with lots of early music alongside new works. I would love to hear the Busoni (arranging Bach), Bach (arranged Goehr), Mozart, Holloway, Gibbons, Eisler concert. Fascinating.

I haven’t included the programme notes, and no author is given for most of these. A playlist of those works here that are also available on spotify can be found here: WCSS. It’s a collaborative playlist so if you find a work that I haven’t listed you can add it. You can also delete tracks and add new ones (perhaps you don’t like my choice of performers?). The recording of Birtwistle’s Tragoedia is by the Melos Ensemble with Lawrence Foster conducting.

(ACGB/51/265; see 1)

[5]

WARDOUR CASTLE SUMMER CONCERTS

President: MICHAEL TIPPETT

Director: HARRISON BIRTWISTLE

Read the rest of this entry »

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A review of the Wardour Castle Concert 1965

This review from the Times, 1965. I love the crossword-cryptic final two sentences (and that they appear with the verso of The Times Crossword Puzzle).

Wardour Castle Concert

For the past two years a week’s unique kind of summer school for composers and other interested in their problems has been held at Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. In the evenings doors are open to the general public for concerts cleverly juxtaposing old and new music, some of it brand new, such as on Friday when the Melos Ensemble introduces works which they themselves had commissioned from the school’s director, Harrison Birtwistle, and Peter Maxwell Davies. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Reviews, What music was performed?, , , , , , , , , , ,

1964 accounts

The V&A archives contain the accounts for both WCSSs.

(ACGB/51/265; see 1)

The items of expenditure are fairly unremarkable:

Catering, boarding out & gratuities. £573- :- 9
Caretaker, laundry, transport kitchen and domestic wages. 275- 19- 1
Artistes’ and orchestral fees. 432- 5- :
Heating, lighting, hire etc. 155- 8- :
Stationery, printing and advertising. 461- 1- 10
Hon. Secretary’s postages. 15- 13- 3
Hon. Treasurer’s do [H.O. Young] 12- 15- 5
Chairman’s telephone 72- 7- 10
Insurance, postage & sundries 89- 17- 3
2.088- 8- 5

However, it also gives the names of the employed tutors all of whom were offered £50 and all of whom waived their fees to balance the accounts.

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Filed under: How was it funded?, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

of tags and categories…

As a writer inexperienced in writing for a blog, I have been faced with some of the medium-specific challenges.

The software in which this post is written makes authoring metadata a central part of the writing process, which is not something that I have before considered (having for the most part avoided IAML paper on this topic). Choices about what tags and categories are most appropriate to use have raised questions about the objects of research at the moment of writing [insert IAML tag]. As my experience in working in this medium increases I am finding more and more that the questions I am formulating relate to choices about tags and categories. Both forms of metadata are necessary to enable me and other readers to navigate posts of the blog, and also to facilitate links with other blogs on wordpress.

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Filed under: Thoughts on categorization/tags, , , , , , , , , , ,

Advertisement for the 1965 WCSS

The following is the text from a flyer/booklet advertising the 1965 WCSS.

[1]

THE WARDOUR CASTLE SUMMER SCHOOL OF MUSIC

14th–22nd AUGUST, 1965

President:

MICHAEL TIPPETT

Musical Directors:

HARRISON BIRTWISTLE

PETER MAXWELL DAVIES

ALEXANDER GOEHR

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Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Other information, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dates

Following a visit to the V&A the dates as published in the programmes/flyers are:

  • 15th to 23rd August, 1964 (ACGB/51/1265)
  • 14th to 22nd August, 1965 (ACGB/51/1265)

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools

Advertisement for the 1964 WCSS

THE WARDOUR CASTLE SUMMER SCHOOL OF MUSIC

15TH TO 23RD AUGUST, 1964

PRESIDENT: MICHAEL TIPPETT

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: HARRISON BIRTWISTLE

The Wardour Summer School of Music is essentially a new venture, which will take place in the elegant Wardour Castle, built for the Arundell family in the latter half of the eighteenth century by James Paine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Funding, the SPNM and the ICA

The archived documents for the Arts Council of England’s annual report for 1965/66 includes a brief report from the SPNM accounting for its activities, which closes with the sentence:

‘In addition to these activities, a contribution of £250 was also made towards first performances of new works by young composers at the Wardour Castle Summer School of Music.’ (ACGB/51/265, ACGB/50/1310; see 1)

The Arts Council’s annual report included the following about the SPNM: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: How was it funded?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Methodology II

This blog seeks to incorporate diverse materials from published and unpublished sources, alongside opinion, anecdote, analysis, and music to ‘compose’ an account of the WCSSs. My understanding of this notion of ‘composition’ derives from two sources. Firstly (and my first encounter with it as an idea that made sense), from an (unpublished) interview between Michael Hall and David Lumsdaine in which Lumsdaine used the term to describe what the listener does in making sense of a performance, drawing ‘resonances’ of other moments in the music, other musics, and much else besides.

Secondly, from Christopher Kelty’s collaborative article, ‘Collaboration, Coordination, and Composition: Fieldwork after the Internet’ (click for the full text of this chapter): Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Methodology, , , , ,

Methodology

Like all the post here, this is provisional, subject to editing, deletion, reworking, expansion and contraction. It will be developed throughout the project in posts tagged with same category.

The core activities of this research includes working with living composers, performers and audiences, conducting interviews and bringing together the existing literature on the Wardour Castle Summer Schools. The existing literature exists in various forms, including recordings of oral history, and for this reason it is necessary to work within methodological frameworks that can incorporate both existing artifacts and the new materials generated directly from my research.

One of the most important reasons for conducting this research on this blog is that it will be a form that is familiar to most of those who I will be interviewing. It will also be familiar to those whose knowledge of these events are outside the existing literature and about whom I know nothing: this particular blog is locatable through the most familiar contemporary search methods and its ability to connect simply and easily with diverse sites will enable the participation of those outside my network of known contacts.

With one of the objectives of the project to increase the public accessibility of materials resulting from this research, the use of internationally recognized, fully documented procedures allows for the transparent flow of information between all those who have an interest in the discourse and research. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Seabrook on the significance of the WCSSs

Mike Seabrook on the significance of the WCSSs:

The Summer Schools had been importance for a number of reasons. First, as concerned Max himself, it was almost certainly at the 1965 school that the expressionist period, which was shortly to bring him with an explosion of volcanic proportions to the very forefront of the British musical scene, first crystallized in his imagination. In his composition class that summer he had dissected three works in great detail and with considerable skill: Bach’s Two-Part Inventions, the titanic first movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. The last was analysed in minute detail because at the end of the school there was to be a performance of the work by the American soprano Bethany Beardslee and the Melos Ensemble.

This performance was duly held in a concert hall bearing the homely name of The Old Kitchen, and took everyone, including Max, by storm. Beardslee’s performance was theatrical and almost certainly set the scene in Max’s mind for the similarly dramatic performances over which he was himself to preside not very long afterwards, but much more importantly than that, it also presaged Max’s whole exploration of the world of musical theatre – and it was on that, […] that the next, vital step of his career was to turn. (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.)

Filed under: What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, , , ,

Wardour Castle Summer School location

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools

The end of the WCSSs

The end of the WCSSs

With this second Wardour Castle school the venture came to a somewhat premature end. Premature because this 1965 school ended with a riotous party that went on all night, featured large numbers of people being sick in interesting places, and, most unfortunately, involved a fair amount of minor damage to the Cranborne Chase premises. It is interesting, though, of course, idle, to speculate on how different the course of recent British musical history might have been had the Wardour Castle experiment been able to continue for a few more years. (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.).

The end of the WCSSs provided the impetus and the space needed for Gilbert, Lumsdaine and Banks to start the SPNM Composer Weekends, where composers continued to gather and which are of vital significance to understanding British music in the latter years of the 1960s. Although this blog is concerned with the two WCSSs, my wider research project seeks to detail the SPNM Composer Weekends.

Research into the Composer Weekends will also address the significant lack of literature about both series’, the scarcity of which privileges the Manchester-three.

But if the Wardour Castle schools thus saw the first germination of a phase of Max’s life and career, they also signalled the end of another: the 1965 school, with its nauseous and drunken conclusion, was the last time the so-called ‘Manchester School’ of composers did anything of any significance together.

[….]

After the second of the two events, Max, Goehr and Birtwistle had finally taken their places as fully acknowledged new leaders of British music, and were at last taken seriously as such. Max’s own last work on the school was typically generous: ‘This will be remembered’, he said, ‘for the arrival of Harrison Birtwistle.’ (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.)

There is a further practical reason for no further Wardour Castle Summer Schools, since Birtwistle left in 1965 for Princeton (where Maxwell Davies had been) on a Harkness, the fellowship during which Punch and Judy was composed. 1 Stephen Pruslin had also been at Princeton until 1963.

Northcott confirms the reasons for the end of the WCSSs:


(LS100049, 1:53’28”)

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, , , , ,

The genesis of the Pierrot Players

[…] the formation of the Pierrot Players was already a living impulse as early as 1964. As the four principals talked further in the following summer at Wardour Castle and then later on when back in London, it gradually took on form and shape, until it finally became a reality in 1967.

(Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 101.)

Filed under: Other information,

Michael Nyman

Pwyll ap Siôn on the impact of the 1964 WCSS on Michael Nyman:

When Nyman was finally formally introduced to serial techniques during a composition Summer School at Wardour Castle, Wiltshire in 1964, the pressure places upon him to adopt these methods resulted in a complete creative impasse. His reaction to serialism was to remain silent as a composer for a decade, as documented in various biographical accounts (Schwartz 1996). (Siôn, Pwyll ap (2007) The Music of Michael Nyman (Aldershot: Ashgate) 21)

Filed under: Other information, Who was there?,

Who taught?

Who Taught at the WCSSs?

1964:

  • Birtwistle, Harrison: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Carewe, John: ACGB/51/1265 (accounts)
  • Friedman, Leonard: ACGB/51/1265 (accounts)
  • Goehr, Alexander: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Gilbert, Anthony: (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)
  • Hurwitz, Emmanuel: ACGB/51/1265
  • Maxwell Davies, Peter: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • de Peyer, Gervase: ACGB/51/1265
  • Telford, John: ACGB/51/1265
  • Tippett, Michael: (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)
  • Wood Hugh: (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)

1965

  • Tippett, Michael: (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)
  • Wood, Hugh: (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Who was there?, , , , , ,

Hugh Wood

Hugh Wood on the WCSSs:

Perhaps the final manifestation of the Manchester troika was their joint participation in the Wardour Castle Summer Schools of 1964 and 1965. The spectacles through which one views the past often become tinted with rose. Nevertheless (and I think anyone who was there would agree) this succession of frantic days amid idyllic surroundings provided an experience hard to come by anywhere today: its idealism and optimism were entirely typical of the 1960s and have vanished with them. Goehr, whose brainchild it had been, was the guiding spirit for the whole operation. (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)

Hugh Wood is quoted by Edward Venn in his book The Music of Hugh Wood, where he comments that:

The two summer schools held at Wardour Castle in 1964 and 1965 encapsulated the adventurous spirit of the times. Conceived by three Manchester Composers, Goehr, Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle, the school offered what was for the time a broad and unconventional programme of concerts, lectures and teaching. Wood and Tippett were also on the teaching staff; Anthony Gilbert taught in 1964 only. (Venn, Edward (2008) The Music of Hugh Wood (Aldershot: Ashgate) 69.)

It is significant that Wood mentions Gilbert here as one of the teachers. How many teachers were there? Why did he not teach in 1965?

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Who was there?, , , , , , ,

Opera

Some quotes about the discussions of opera at the second  Wardour Castle Summer School.

This from Meirion Bowen:

[At the] Bath Academy of Art […. Tippett met] newcomers such as the rising stars of the postwar English avant-garde, Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr and Harrison Birtwistle. The latter trio organized two summer schools focussed on contemporary music at Wardour Castle, in 1965 and 1966 [sic]. Tippett once joined in a memorable seminar there at which all four of them discussed the operas they were currently engaging in writing.’ (Bowen, Meirion (1997), Michael Tippett (London: Robson Books), 40.)

Which is expanded by Michael Hall:

Even without the benefit of hindsight, one can see the direction in which all these interests and activities are going. The intensification of dramatic forms and now the involvement of the visual strongly suggest opera. And so it was. In August 1964, shortly after the first performance of Entr’actes and Sappho Fragments at the Cheltenham Festival, Goehr, Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle inaugurated the first of two summer schools of music which they held under the presidency of Michael Tippett at Wardour Castle. As it happened, the talk, certainly in private, was of opera. Unlike the situation on the continent where opera had become de trop, Britain was experiencing an operatic renaissance. Two years earlier Tippett had some approval with King Priam and was now well and truly embarked on The Knot Garden; Maxwell Davies had virtually completed the first act of Taverner, while Goehr was mulling over Arden Must Die. Both Richard Rodney Bennett and Malcolm Williamson had produced operas that year, and Britten, the doyen of them all in this field, had unveiled Curlew River, the first of his church parables. Clearly British composers, even young ones, had no reservations about the anecdotal or the referential! (Hall, Michael (1984), Harrison Birtwistle (London: Robson Books), 27.)

Did Birtwistle’s contribution to the discussion involve Punch and Judy?

Hall’s comment that there were ‘no reservations about the anecdotal or the referential’ has wide-reaching implications for the understanding of British modernism during this period. My work on David Lumsdaine suggests that these discussions of opera are important for instrumental works too: Kelly Ground, for example, is a composition that established Lumsdaine’s place within an avant-garde, in part through references to Boulez, Webern, Stockhausen and Ligeti. 1

Filed under: What was analyzed/discussed?, , , , , , , , , , , ,

What was performed?

1964:

  • Messiaen 1 ACGB/51/1265
  • Anthony Gilbert: solo piano Sonata, performed by Margaret Kitchin. 1
  • Peter Maxwell Davies: Five Little Pieces for Piano, perf. Peter Maxwell Davies 1

‘There will be concerts by the Melos Ensemble, which will include along with classical works, the “Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps,” by Oliver [sic] Messiaen.’ ACGB/51/1265

1965

Visiting Artists:

  • Bethany Beardslee: Milton Babbitt’s Philomel for soprano, recorded soprano and electronics. 1, Pierrot Lunaire with the Melos Ensemble cond. Edward Downes. 2, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Leonard Stein: Arnold Schoenberg Op.23, Goehr’s Op.18. 1
  • Melos Ensemble: Goehr Little Music for Strings, Bach’s Double Concerto cond. Lawrence Foster. 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Vocal Quartet: Barbara Elsy, Pauline Stevens, Ian Partridge, Geoffrey Shaw. They performed: Robin Holloway’s score for soprano (Elsy), baritone (Shaw) ensemble (Melos) cond. Goehr. 1

Composers:

  • John Buller 1
  • Harrison Birtwistle: Tragoedia (premiere) commissioned by the Melos Ensemble 1, dir./cond. Lawrence Foster, ‘To Michael Tippett on the occasion of his 60th birthday’ 20 August 1965: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Hall, Michael (1984), Harrison Birtwistle (London: Robson Books), 32), (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.), (Times, Monday August 23 1965, 15.)

‘Those who heard Tragoedia when it was first performed at the 1965 Wardour Castle Summer School have said they will never forget the excitement it generated. With it his career was assured. (Hall, Michael (1984), Harrison Birtwistle (London: Robson Books), 32)

‘the first performance of […] Tragoedia […] caused a tremendous stir of excitement’ (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.)

‘Actually, it was a knockout – as that evening’s rave reception of the first performance duly confirmed. And it marked the definitive arrival of Harrison Birtwistle.’ 1

  • Peter Maxwell Davies: Ecce Manus Tradentis 1, 2, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.), (Times, Monday August 23 1965, 15.)

‘The short instrumental first part, Eram Quasi Agnus, was commissioned by the English Bach Festival and was not composed until later ­– it received its first performance in 1969. But the bigger vocal and choral second half was performed on this occasion at Wardour Castle by the Summer School Choir with the Melos Ensemble, and soloists Bethany Beardslee, Pauline Stevens, Ian Partridge and Geoffrey Shaw.’ (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.)

  • David Bedford: Dream of the Seven Lost Stars ‘summer school choir under John Alldis’ 1 performed on the last night (21st?) with ‘music by Messiaen and a Bach cantata’. 2, ACGB/51/1265
  • Schoenberg, Arnold: Pierrot Lunaire (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.), (Burden, Michael (2000), ‘A foxtrot to the crucifiction’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 52.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Tallis, Thomas: Spem in alium, cond. Michael Tippett. ACGB/51/1265
  • Wood, Hugh: A work for choir and orchestra? ACGB/51/1265

‘Concerts, open to the public, but free to all students, will be given during the course by the Melos Ensemble and other artists. These will include the first performances of works by Birtwistle, Goehr and Maxwell Davies commissioned for the occasion by the Melos Ensemble. The concerts will also include The Musical Offering by J. S. Bach and a performance with Bethany Beardslee, of “Pierrot Lumaire” by Schoeberg. The Summer School is also commissioning other works for these concerts by composers who will be present at the course.’ ACGB/51/1265

Filed under: What music was performed?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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