A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

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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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.)

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