An English Journey: exploring the ‘English Musical Renaissance’
November 29th - December 4th 2015
In the late nineteenth century, England was looked down on by its continental neighbours as a nation with few composers of merit. This view persisted into the new century when, in 1914, a German writer, a certain Oscar Schmitz, dubbed England 'Das Land ohne Musik'.
But, although foreigners in the Victorian era may have looked down on our native composers – and, indeed, Art Music in England was not held in high esteem by our own educated classes – England was by no means ‘the land without music’. While it is true that Austro-German composers dominated the musical life of central Europe during the late nineteenth century, England had a strong choral tradition of its own, following in the wake of Handel. The popularity of the piano encouraged music-making in middle-class homes and the urban masses had music halls. Moreover, under the influence of John Curwen and others, music education in the late Victorian era was making an impact on the working classes, slowly creating a musically literate nation.
By the end of the century, the tide was turning and a musical renaissance was underway. Under the influence of Sir Hubert Parry and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, a new generation of composers gradually began to make their names known on these shores and beyond – among them Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Gustav Holst and many more, whose music we have grown to love and treasure as part of our cultural heritage.
This holiday course will look at the state of music in England during the late Victorian era and the early years of the twentieth century. It will uncover works that perhaps deserve to be better known and more highly valued than they are today.
The holiday will culminate in a recital by the Solem String Quartet. The four young players were brought together in 2011 by their studies at the University of Manchester. They have won many prizes and now enjoy a busy concert schedule performing at prestigious venues across the UK. Last year they wowed Rothay Manor guests by the brilliance of their playing. Their recital this year will include one of John Ireland’s two string quartets and other works by his contemporaries.