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’.
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:
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.
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.
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)