Wardourcastlesummerschool

A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965

Royal Musical Association

The following paper was given at the Royal Musical Association’s annual conference, 16 July 2010.

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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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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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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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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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Hugh Wood

On Thursday, 29th October I visited Hugh Wood at his London home, to speak with him about his experience and memory of the WCSSs. I recorded, with permission, the interview. Meeting Wood was thoroughly enjoyable and he lived up to his reputation as charming, intelligent and thoughtful. His memories will enlighten my research, and over the coming months more details of the events will be posted. This post, like the initial post regarding Michael Hall, will focus on the ethics of recording and publishing the interview.

At the outset I asked if it would be alright to record, and Wood agreed.

Late in the conversation I mentioned that there were ethical issues with me making a recording. His response was ‘oh that’s nice of you to say’. Then the following took place:

(LS100045; from 35’55”)

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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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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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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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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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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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