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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Filed under: Commentary from Interviews, What music was performed?, What was analyzed/discussed?, , , , , , , , ,

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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Composers at School – Meirion Bowen

The 1965 WCSS received a particularly interesting review from Meirion Bowen (written 2 years he first met Michael Tippett). The article is notable for its review of the discussions that took place at Wardour regarding drama in music. It represents an early account of the event and channels the significance of the discussion that took place, even if Bowen would have rathered composers who explored ‘objectively the various issues.’ It’s also an account that aligns with Anthony Gilbert’s comments that the WCSSs were where ‘a whole new set of conventions were drafted’, especially when Bowen comments that the discussion was a ‘search for new idioms’ and a ‘new musical language’.

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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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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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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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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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