Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

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.

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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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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 »

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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.

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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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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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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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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)

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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.)

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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?

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Ensembles/performers in residence

1965:

  • Melos Ensemble 1, 2
  • Bethany Beardsley 1
  • vocal quartet: Barbara Elsy, Pauline Stevens, Ian Partridge, Geoffrey Shaw. They performed: Robin Holloway’s score for soprano (Elsy), baritone (Shaw) ensemble (Melos) conducted by Alexander Goehr. 1 and Davies’ Ecce Manus Tradentis (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 93.).
  • Leonard Stein: Arnold Schoenberg Op.23, Goehr’s Op.18. 1

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1965

Name: Source

‘some 50 composers’: 1

  • Alldis, John: 1 ‘John Aldis trained the choir at the Wardour Castle Sumer School in 1965’ (Venn, Edward (2008) The Music of Hugh Wood (Aldershot: Ashgate) 69.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Aronowitz, Cecil: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Beardslee, Bethany: 1, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Bennett, William: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Birtwistle, Harrison: 1, 2, 3, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Buller, John: 1
  • Crowson, Lamar: ACGB/51/1265
  • Downes, Edward: ACGB/51/1265
  • Friedman, Leonard: ACGB/51/1265
  • Gilbert, Anthony: 1
  • Glanville, Ranulph: 1
  • Goehr, Alexander: 1, 2, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Hacker, Alan: (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.)
  • Hurwitz, Emmanuel [Emanuel] : 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Maxwell Davies, Peter: 123, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Peyer, Gervase De: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Sanders, Neill: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Smalley, Roger: 1
  • Thomas, Michael: ACGB/51/1265
  • Tippett, Michael: 1 ACGB/51/1265
  • Weil, Terence: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Wood, Hugh: 1, 2, (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.), ACGB/51/1265

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1964

Name: sources

1964:

  • Birtwistle , Harrison: 1, 2, 3, (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 31.), (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), (Roberts, David (2000), ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 13.), (Burden, Michael (2000), ‘A foxtrot to the crucifiction’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 52.), ACGB/51/1265,
  • Carewe, John: ACGB/51/1265 (accounts)
  • Crowson, Lomar: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Friedman, Leonard: ACGB/51/1265 (accounts)
  • Gilbert, Anthony: 1, (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 31.), (Venn, Edward (2008) The Music of Hugh Wood (Aldershot: Ashgate) 69.)
  • Glanville, Ranulph: 1
  • Goehr, Alexander: 1, 23, 4, (Randel, Don (1996) The Harvard biographical dictionary of music (HUP),  318), (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 30.), (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), (Roberts, David (2000), ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 13.), (Burden, Michael (2000), ‘A foxtrot to the crucifiction’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 52.), (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel(Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Hacker, Alan: (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.)
  • Hurwitz, Emmanuel: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Lumsdaine, David: (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 30.)
  • Maxwell Davies, Peter: 12, (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 31.), (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), (Roberts, David (2000), ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 13.), (Burden, Michael (2000), ‘A foxtrot to the crucifiction’, Perspectives on Peter Maxwell Davies (Aldershot, Ashgate), 52.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Nyman, Michael: 1,  (Pwyll ap Siôn, The music of Michael Nyman: texts, contexts and intertexts (Aldershot: Ashgate))
  • Peyer, Gervase De: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Pritchard, Gwyn: 1
  • Telford, John: ACGB/51/1265
  • Tippett, Michael: 1 , 2, 3, (Hall, Michael (2003), Between Two Worlds (Todmordon: Arc), 30.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Wood, Hugh: 1, (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.)

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