Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

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?, , , , , , , , , , ,

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?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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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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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

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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

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