Wardourcastlesummerschool

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

PMD

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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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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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 »

Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, General details of the Summer Schools, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1964 Programme of Concerts and Lectures

The following is the contents of the 1964 Programme, held by Bayan Northcott and photographed when I visited him.
P1080929

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1964 Concert Programme with comments

1964 Programme of Concerts as given in the publicity leaflet, a copy of which was given to me by Michael Hall. The comments are those by Hugh Wood. As further composers are interviewed their comments will be added alongside those by Wood.

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1964 Programme of Concerts

1964 Programme of Concerts as given in the publicity leaflet, a copy of which was given to me by Michael Hall.

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A review of the Wardour Castle Concert 1965

This review from the Times, 1965. I love the crossword-cryptic final two sentences (and that they appear with the verso of The Times Crossword Puzzle).

Wardour Castle Concert

For the past two years a week’s unique kind of summer school for composers and other interested in their problems has been held at Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. In the evenings doors are open to the general public for concerts cleverly juxtaposing old and new music, some of it brand new, such as on Friday when the Melos Ensemble introduces works which they themselves had commissioned from the school’s director, Harrison Birtwistle, and Peter Maxwell Davies. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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of tags and categories…

As a writer inexperienced in writing for a blog, I have been faced with some of the medium-specific challenges.

The software in which this post is written makes authoring metadata a central part of the writing process, which is not something that I have before considered (having for the most part avoided IAML paper on this topic). Choices about what tags and categories are most appropriate to use have raised questions about the objects of research at the moment of writing [insert IAML tag]. As my experience in working in this medium increases I am finding more and more that the questions I am formulating relate to choices about tags and categories. Both forms of metadata are necessary to enable me and other readers to navigate posts of the blog, and also to facilitate links with other blogs on wordpress.

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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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Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Other information, Who was there?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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Funding, the SPNM and the ICA

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)

The Arts Council’s annual report included the following about the SPNM: Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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.)

Filed under: General details of the Summer Schools, Who was there?, , , , , ,

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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Opera

Some quotes about the discussions of opera at the second  Wardour Castle Summer School.

This from Meirion Bowen:

[At the] Bath Academy of Art […. Tippett met] newcomers such as the rising stars of the postwar English avant-garde, Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr and Harrison Birtwistle. The latter trio organized two summer schools focussed on contemporary music at Wardour Castle, in 1965 and 1966 [sic]. Tippett once joined in a memorable seminar there at which all four of them discussed the operas they were currently engaging in writing.’ (Bowen, Meirion (1997), Michael Tippett (London: Robson Books), 40.)

Which is expanded by Michael Hall:

Even without the benefit of hindsight, one can see the direction in which all these interests and activities are going. The intensification of dramatic forms and now the involvement of the visual strongly suggest opera. And so it was. In August 1964, shortly after the first performance of Entr’actes and Sappho Fragments at the Cheltenham Festival, Goehr, Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle inaugurated the first of two summer schools of music which they held under the presidency of Michael Tippett at Wardour Castle. As it happened, the talk, certainly in private, was of opera. Unlike the situation on the continent where opera had become de trop, Britain was experiencing an operatic renaissance. Two years earlier Tippett had some approval with King Priam and was now well and truly embarked on The Knot Garden; Maxwell Davies had virtually completed the first act of Taverner, while Goehr was mulling over Arden Must Die. Both Richard Rodney Bennett and Malcolm Williamson had produced operas that year, and Britten, the doyen of them all in this field, had unveiled Curlew River, the first of his church parables. Clearly British composers, even young ones, had no reservations about the anecdotal or the referential! (Hall, Michael (1984), Harrison Birtwistle (London: Robson Books), 27.)

Did Birtwistle’s contribution to the discussion involve Punch and Judy?

Hall’s comment that there were ‘no reservations about the anecdotal or the referential’ has wide-reaching implications for the understanding of British modernism during this period. My work on David Lumsdaine suggests that these discussions of opera are important for instrumental works too: Kelly Ground, for example, is a composition that established Lumsdaine’s place within an avant-garde, in part through references to Boulez, Webern, Stockhausen and Ligeti. 1

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Early Details

From June 1964:

The Wardour Summer School of Music, a new venture, is the idea of the group of young composers forming the ‘Manchester School’. Alexander Goehr will rehearse the choir and orchestra, take classes in analysis and composition, and lecture on 20th-century music; Peter Maxwell Davies will rehearse the choir, and lecture on early music; Harrison Birtwistle will rehearse the orchestra. Details from The Lodge, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury, Dorset. 1

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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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