Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

Peter Maxwell Davies

On 7 June, 2010 I went to the Royal Academy of Music to interview Peter Maxwell Davies about his involvement at the WCSSs.

Was there some need that the WCSSs filled?


(LS100098, 25’50”)

The following comment about optimism goes to the atmosphere of the events:

(LS100098, 16’00”)

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Two Reviews

Here are two reviews of the Melos Ensemble’s London performance of Birtwistle’s Tragoedia and Davies’s In Nomines, from December 1965.

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Copyright

One of the issues that is raised by making information publicly available through this medium is that of copyright. I earlier posted tangentially about copyright, when I made reference to Chris Anderson and suggested that one of the topics that this blog will explore is that of scholarly publishing. This blog is not in the typical sense peer reviewed, though each post has room for comments to be left by any who care to do so. For the most recent interviews I have made the presence of the blog known to the interviewee, who, if they are so desirous, can peruse the contents of the blog and comment as they wish. I have posted on Bayan Northcott’s engagement with this blog immediate before our interview, and the effect that it had on the subsequent discussion. 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 »

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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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1965 Concert Programme with comments

1965 Programme of Concerts submitted to the Arts Council. (ACGB/51/265; see 1)

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 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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Accounts for 1965

1965 Accounts

The following are excerpts from the 1965 Certified Statement of Accounts, held at the V&A (ACGB/51/1265)

It is curious that no payment was made for music hire… It is also interesting to see the insistence with which the Arts Council corrects the accounts to conform to their commitment to guarantee 5 concerts and not six. There seems to have been a close eye kept on ensuring that the support the arts council gave was transparent and not confused with overall support for the summer school. One thinks of how rarely the arts council is credited as such in today’s concert programmes, where, instead, an arts council logo appears alongside other supporters. The full amount of the guarantee was paid, since the reduced deficit was still more than double the guarantee.

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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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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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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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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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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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