A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

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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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 »

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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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