North American British Music Studies Association

Recent Publications, Spring 2016

Articles

Aspden, Suzanne. “‘Sancta Cæcilia Rediviva’. Elizabeth Linley: Repertoire, Reputation and the English Voice.” Cambridge Opera Journal 27/3 (November 2015): 263-287.

Atlas, Allan. “On the Reception of Vaughan Williams’s Symphonies in New York, 1920/1–2014/15.” Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 41/1 (2016): 24-86.

Baade, Christina. “‘Something We Cannot Get in England’: Hearing Anglo-American Difference in America Dances.” American Music 33/3 (Fall 2015): 307-344.

Banfield, Stephen. “Grainger the Edwardian.” Musicology Australia 37/2 (March 2016): 148-166.

Bucciarelli, Melania. “Senesino’s Negotiations with the Royal Academy of Music: Further Insight into the Riva–Bernardi Correspondence and the Role of Singers in the Practice of Eighteenth-Century Opera.” Cambridge Opera Journal 27/3 (November 2015): 189-213.

Desler, Anne. “The little that I have done is already gone and forgotten’:Farinelli and Burney Write Music History.” Cambridge Opera Journal 27/3 (November 2015): 215-238.

Duncan, Cheryll. “New Purcell Documents from the Court of King’s Bench.” Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 41/1 (2016): 1-23.

Grimley, Daniel M. “Music, Landscape, and the Sound of Place: On Hearing Delius’s Song of the High Hills.” Journal of Musicology 33/1 (Winter 2016): 11-44.

Guthrie, Kate Guthrie. “Awakening ‘Sleeping Beauty’: The Creation of National Ballet in Britain.” Music & Letters 96/3 (August 2015): 418-48.

Hamilton, Katy. “‘A man of many hobbies…’: Alan Adair and the Concerts of the Adair Wounded Fund.” Fontes Artis Musicae 63/1 (January-March 2016): 33-43.

Hill, Jennifer. “Deeply helpful training’: Percy Grainger’s First Piano Teachers in Late Nineteenth-century Melbourne.” Musicology Australia 37/2 (March 2016): 135-147.

Johnstone, Jennifer. “Welshness and Choral Singing: Cognitive and Sociohistorical Aspects of Cultural Identity in North Wales.” Journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music 42/1 (2015): https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/MC/issue/view/1826.

Kingsbury, Stephen. “Aesthetic Meaning in the Congregational Masses of James MacMillan.” Yale Journal of Music & Religion 2/1 (2016): http://dx.doi.org/10.17132/2377-231X.1014.

Loomis, Karen, Ticca Ogilvie, and Lore Troalen. “Reidentifying the wood of the Queen Mary and Lamont harps.” Early Music 43/4 (2015): 623-634.

Marini, Stephen A. “Whitefield’s Music: Moorfields Tabernacle, The Divine Musical Miscellany (1754), and the Fashioning of Early Evangelical Sacred Song.” Yale Journal of Music & Religion 2/1 (2016): http://dx.doi.org/10.17132/2377-231X.1043.

McLaughlin, Noel. “Another Green World?: Eno, Ireland and U2.” Popular Music History 9/4 (2014): 173-194: https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/PMH/issue/current.

Nedbal, Martin. “Reinterpreting The Bartered Bride: Vašek as a Model for Britten’s Albert Herring.” Journal of Musicological Research 34/3 (2015): 275-298.

Owen, Ceri. “Making an English Voice: Performing National Identity during the English Musical Renaissance.” Twentieth-Century Music 13/1 (March 2016): 77-107.

Robinson, Suzanne. “‘Life’s Major Crossroads’: Study and Career Paths of Four Australian Women Composers at the Royal College of Music in the 1930s.” Musicology Australia 37/2 (March 2016): 167-184.

Russell, Dave. “Key Workers: Toward an Occupational History of the Private Music Teacher in England and Wales, c.1861–c.1921.” Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 41/1 (2016): 145-72.

Scobie, Christopher. “Ephemeral Music?: – The ‘Secondary Music’ Collection at the British Library.” Fontes Artis Musicae 63/1 (January-March 2016): 21-32

Sharpe, Richard. “Tommaso Giordani, Gregorio Ballabene’s Messa a dodici cori con organo and Sacred Music in Late-Eighteenth-Century Dublin.” Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland Vol. 11 (2015-16): 25-35.

Smith, Neil Thomas. “The Case for a British Darmstadt.” Tempo 69/274 (October 2015): 50-57.

Stirling, Christabel. “Sound Art / Street Life: Tracing the social and political effects of sound installations in London.” Journal of Sonic Studies 11 (2016): http://sonicstudies.org/current.

Turner, Kristen M. “Class, Race, and Uplift in the Opera House: Theodore Drury and His Company Cross the Color Line.” Journal of Musicological Research 34/3 (2015): 320-351.

Walden, Daniel K.S. “Charting Boethius: Music and the Diagrammtic Tree in the Cambridge University Library’s de Institutione Arthimetica, MS II.3.12.” Early Music History 34 (October 2015): 207-28.

Watson, Laura. “Epitaph for a Musician: Rhoda Coghill as Pianist, Composer and Poet.” Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland Vol. 11 (2015-16): 3-23.

 

Books

The Beatles are Here!: 5- Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers and Other Fans Remember. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014.

Beyond Britten: The Composer and the Community. Edited by Peter Wiegold and Ghislaine Kenyon. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2016.

Felix Aprahamian: Diaries and Selected Writings on Music. Edited by Lewis Foreman and Susan Foreman. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 2015.

Fuhrmann, Christina. Foreign Opera at the London Playhouses, from Mozart to Bellini. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Gelly, Dave. An Unholy Row: Jazz in Britain and its Audience, 1945-1960. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Grainger the Modernist. Edited by Robinson, Suzanne and Kay Dreyfus. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015.

Hunter, David. The Lives of George Frideric Handel. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 2015.

Huston, Jennifer L. US: Changing the World through Rock ‘n’ Roll. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2015.

Johnston, Roy with Declan Plummer. The Musical Life of Nineteenth-Century Belfast. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2015.

Lazareviće, Slobodan and Radmila Paunovic Stajn. The Mythological in the Operas of Benjamin Britten. Lewiston, NY and Ceredigion Wales: Edwin Mellen Press, 2014.

Musicians of Bath and Beyond: Edward Loder (1809-1865) and his Family. Edited by Nicholas Temperley. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2016.

Palmer, Andrew. Encounters with British Composers. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 2015.

Ritchie, Fiona and Douglas M. Orr. Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

The Sea in the British Musical Imagination. Edited by Eric Saylor and Christopher M. Scheer. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 2015.

Smith, Jeremy L. Verse and Voice in Byrd’s Song Collections of 1588 and 1589. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2016.

Tougas, Jose. The Beatles: Defining Rock ‘n’ Roll. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2015.

 

Sterndale Bennett at 200

By Nicholas Temperley

This year we commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of William Sterndale Bennett (1816–1875).  He was one of three early Victorian performer-composers who managed to overcome the British establishment’s preference for music of foreign origin, and even to enjoy a commanding position and reputation in their time.  The others were Michael William Balfe (1808–1879) and Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876).

There is surprisingly little overlap between the musical domains occupied by these three men.  Balfe managed to achieve success in the financially hazardous field of opera, not only in Britain but on the Continent as well, first as a singer and then as a composer; public taste would not let him stray far from Italian models and the Anglo-Irish ballad.  Wesley, after youthful exploration of several different fields, settled for the comparatively safe and insular world of the Church of England, where his bold challenges to convention both in organ playing and composition were made possible by the security of his appointments.

Bennett chose instrumental music as his main field of activity, with concentration on the piano.  In the time of his youth the instrument was nearing the summit of its growth and development, and was a focus of innovation, excitement, and enormous popularity, both in the concert hall and in the home.  Competition was fierce for the primary positions of fame in the role of pianist-composer, dominated by Liszt, Chopin, and Thalberg.  But Bennett, for whatever reason, refused to follow the lead of these men, seeing himself as a defender of the classical tradition against mounting threats of commercialism, vulgarity, and virtuosity.

Orphaned in early life, he was raised at Cambridge, where for a while he and his grandfather were both singing in the King’s College Chapel choir.  Soon recognized as a child prodigy, William was admitted before his tenth birthday to the recently founded Royal Academy of Music (RAM).  His most important teacher there was Cipriani Potter (1792–1871).  A pioneer in teaching the principles of musical form, Potter treated Mozart as the best model for composition students, a view that Bennett maintained throughout his career.  His first piano concerto (1832) attracted the attention of Mendelssohn, who promptly invited Bennett to visit him in Germany.  With this encouragement Bennett produced in the next decade an astonishing group of symphonies, piano concertos, and overtures on classical models.  They include his overture The Naiades (1837), which became his most popular orchestral work.  At the same time he developed for domestic use a more intimately original style in a series of piano pieces and songs.  He began to be influenced by the manner of Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” though never at the cost of his own, often more intense, musical personality.

In the course of his visits to Leipzig that followed, Bennett found that he was treated as a leading member of the famous circle of musicians there, earning extravagant praise from both Mendelssohn (“I am convinced if he does not become a very great musician, it is not God’s will, but his own”) and Schumann (“Were there many artists like Sterndale Bennett, all fears for the future progress of our art would be silenced”).  Greatly encouraged, he produced more ambitious piano works, including a sonata dedicated to Mendelssohn and a fantasia dedicated to Schumann.  He gained an enviably high reputation in Germany, which led to the publication there of most of his compositions—an unusual privilege for a British composer at the time—and, eventually, to the offer of the conductorship of the Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts for the 1853–4 season.  He could surely have found a way of rearranging his obligations in England so that he could accept this signal honor.  The fact that he turned it down is an indication of the self-doubt that seems to have troubled him through much of his life.

Back in England, Bennett found he had to concentrate on making a living, especially after his marriage in 1844, soon to be followed by the birth of three children.  Many of his equally needy contemporaries, such as Edward Loder, had to publish popular ballads, or facile piano pieces based on currently fashionable songs, for ready money.  As a matter of principle Bennett refused to descend to this level.  He also seems to have disapproved of the theatre.  He earned what he could from more high-minded performing or composing opportunities.

But most of his income had to come from teaching.  He had taught at the RAM since 1837, and took private pupils as well, but he failed to secure any other position until 1855, when he was appointed conductor of the Philharmonic Society, and professor of music at Cambridge the following year.  These appointments gave belated recognition to his standing in the profession, but added little to his income.  After his Suite de Pièces (1842) his output of compositions for the next fifteen years was disappointingly meager.  He failed to complete commissions for several large works, including an opera and an oratorio, and only occasionally published a modest piano piece or set of songs, and a single sonata for cello and piano in 1852.  His life seems to have become a ceaseless round of playing and teaching.  With only mild exaggeration, Geoffrey Bush fifty years ago asked “Why did Bennett give up being a composer at the age of twenty-eight?”

Some writers have simply put down his low output to overwork.  But Bennett did find time for a substantial amount of valuable scholarly work.  He founded the Bach Society in 1849, and was responsible for the first English edition and public performance of the St. Matthew Passion.  With Otto Goldschmidt he edited The Chorale Book for England (published in 1863), consisting of German chorales with English texts.  He also produced an edition of classical piano sonatas and gave two series of historical lectures at the London Institution.

What was needed to revive his career as a composer was a strong external stimulus.  This came in later years in the form of several commissions.  A cantata, The May-Queen, was written for the Leeds Festival of 1858.  Two choral odes were ordered in 1862—one for the International Exhibition, with words by Tennyson, the other for the installation of the Duke of Devonshire as chancellor of Cambridge University, with words by Kingsley.  He provided a Symphony in G minor, for both the Gewandhaus and the Philharmonic Society, in 1863–4, and an oratorio, The Woman of Samaria, for the Birmingham Festival of 1867.  The overture to Ajax followed in 1872.  One of his last works was more spontaneous, and certainly surprising: a programmatic piano sonata, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1873).

 

William Sterndale Bennett aged about 50

William Sterndale Bennett aged about 50. Image courtesy of the Sterndale Bennett family.

 

It is generally agreed that these late works, though they show a composer in full command of his medium and contain occasional touches of brilliance, mostly lack the inspiration and originality of Bennett’s youthful period.  As I have speculated elsewhere, the early loss of both parents may have left him with a profound need for reassurance and encouragement, which England could not provide for a native composer in his time.  As a young man he responded to the admiration of his English and German colleagues, above all Mendelssohn and Schumann.  But this did not lead to appropriate recognition in England until many years later.  When the opportunity arrived to claim his earned place as a leader in German music, he was not quite bold enough to grasp it.

Bennett and his English contemporaries have not been treated well by music historians, who long ago placed them in a Dark Age preceding the “English Musical Renaissance” and dismissed Bennett as an imitator of Mendelssohn.  Although that judgment has been challenged for some time, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to give it a more comprehensive review, and in this year above all, to get to know Bennett’s music well enough to appreciate its individual virtues.  An amazingly large proportion of it is now freely available in high-quality recordings through YouTube and other sources.  Rosemary Williamson’s comprehensive thematic catalogue of his works was published by Oxford University Press in 1996.  Several essays of a re-evaluating character have been issued by Larry Todd, Peter Horton, and others.  This year’s NABMSA conference will include a session on Bennett, with papers by Therese Ellsworth on his reputation in America and by Linda Shaver-Gleason on the reasons for his dismissal as a Mendelssohn imitator.   A special issue of Nineteenth-Century Music Review, edited by Jeremy Dibble, will also commemorate the bicentenary; it includes an essay by me on Bennett’s stylistic originality.  And Dr Horton is preparing a full-length book study.

Perhaps at last Sterndale Bennett will get his due.

Sounding Tennyson

Sounding Tennyson

Sounding Tennyson, a freely-available website, is now live. The website materials include the first recordings and publications of Emily Tennyson’s piano/vocal settings of “Break, Break, Break,” which preserve aspects of poet Alfred Tennyson’s recitation. The recordings were made in the drawing room at the Tennysons’ restored home, Farringford, using Queen Victoria’s piano. Sounding Tennyson uses sound as an experiential way of conceptually thinking through an archive and is the first digital archival grouping of Tennyson items. It is also the 14th project world-wide to use MEI (Music Encoding Initiative).

The music section on the site shows images of musical scores (mostly by Tennyson’s wife, Emily) and gives the option to play the songs, with each measure marked in time with the music. Users can compare any one musical setting to other musical and textual drafts. The scores can be silently examined through the music or archives tab, which includes all the digitized items featured on Sounding Tennyson. An “earwitness” section contains observers’ accounts of listening to Tennyson or his family recite and the poet’s response to hearing his poetry set to music. Following the essays link brings up short articles, both highly specific to the poem and contextual. Please visit the site at http://www.soundingtennyson.org.