Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

Roger Smalley

I met with Roger Smalley in Glebe, Sydney, 7 April, 2010. I interviewed him partly for his recollections as a participant at the WCSS and partly to find out more about his performance there in 1965. As a member of the Composers’ Ensemble he performed in one of the last concerts on the 1965 programme, which was a substantially different to the other concerts. It consisted of Cage, Feldman, Cardew, Messiaen, Stockhausen and one of Smalley’s compositions, Two Poems of D. H. Lawrence.

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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 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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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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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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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.)

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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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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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1965

Name: Source

‘some 50 composers’: 1

  • Alldis, John: 1 ‘John Aldis trained the choir at the Wardour Castle Sumer School in 1965’ (Venn, Edward (2008) The Music of Hugh Wood (Aldershot: Ashgate) 69.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Aronowitz, Cecil: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Beardslee, Bethany: 1, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 94.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Bennett, William: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Birtwistle, Harrison: 1, 2, 3, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Buller, John: 1
  • Crowson, Lamar: ACGB/51/1265
  • Downes, Edward: ACGB/51/1265
  • Friedman, Leonard: ACGB/51/1265
  • Gilbert, Anthony: 1
  • Glanville, Ranulph: 1
  • Goehr, Alexander: 1, 2, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Hacker, Alan: (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.)
  • Hurwitz, Emmanuel [Emanuel] : 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Maxwell Davies, Peter: 123, (Seabrook, Mike (1994), Max: The Life and Music of Peter Maxwell Davies (London: Victor Gollancz), 100.), ACGB/51/1265
  • Peyer, Gervase De: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Sanders, Neill: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Smalley, Roger: 1
  • Thomas, Michael: ACGB/51/1265
  • Tippett, Michael: 1 ACGB/51/1265
  • Weil, Terence: 1, ACGB/51/1265
  • Wood, Hugh: 1, 2, (Wood, Hugh (2003) ‘On music of Conviction… and an enduring friendship’ in Sing, Ariel (Aldershot: Ashgate) 328.), ACGB/51/1265

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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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