Wardourcastlesummerschool

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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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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A concert, but when?

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.

(LS100044: 51’10”)

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.

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Flyers/Programme 1965

Michael Hall gave me copies of two flyers, one for each of the two WCSSs. The 1964 is the material posted here. I had paid far less attention to the 1965 flyer, since I already had this information from the concert programme. Or so I thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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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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What was analyzed/discussed?

Music analyzed and discussed:

1964:

  • Proposed: CPE Bach Morgengesand, Gibbons London Street Cries, Gabrielli Canzonetta a 12, Peter Maxwell Davies New Choral Work1
  • ‘Rhythmical implications’ ‘Der kranke Mond’ from Pierrot Lunaire presented by Alexander Goehr. (Hall, Michael (2003) Between Two Worlds: The Music of David Lumsdaine (Todmorden, Arc Publications), 31-32.)
  • Birtwistle’s Three Movements with Fanfares. ‘Perotin, Machaut, Dufay and Dunstable’, particularly the latter composer’s Veni sancte spiritus (Hall, Michael (2003) Between Two Worlds: The Music of David Lumsdaine (Todmorden, Arc Publications), 31-32.)

1965:

  • ‘Bach inventions, Mahler III, Pierrot1, 2
  • Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, the first movement of Mahler’s third symphony, Bach Two-Part Inventions (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.)

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