English Music Part II

English Music 2

Important local representatives were the composer, organist and Bach admirer Samuel Wesley (* 1766, † 1837) and W. S. Bennett, who paved the way for English national music with his works influenced by F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy and R. Schumann, while W. Boyce became a church – and the opera composer left traces.

Sullivan developed, in close collaboration with his librettist William Schwenk Gilbert (* 1836, † 1911), the operetta-like genre of musical comedy (“The Mikado”, 1885), which also attracted attention abroad and whose effects extend to themusicals of A. Lloyd Webber et al. extends. The oratorio tradition founded by Handel was continued with the Scottish A. C. Mackenzie, who worked in England,and above all with C. H. Parry, who was next to C. V. Stanford with his works inspired by German Romanticism introduced the “English Musical Renaissance” (1840–1940) and which sought to restore international recognition to English music.

The central composer personality of English Romanticism was E. Elgar, who advanced to national composer with the oratorio “The Dream of Gerontius” and especially with the “Pomp and Cicumstance” marches and influenced subsequent composers such as A. Bliss. The works of Elizabeth Maconchy stand in conscious contrast to this tonal language. In addition, impressionistic influences (impressionism) are reflected in the work of C. Scott and F. Delius, the latter as well as the harmoniously experimental G. Holst was also repeatedly inspired by folk music. On the other hand, the tonal spectrum at F. Bridge ranges from impressionism to twelve-tone music (twelve-tone technique). Ethel Smyth emerged as an outstanding opera composer (“The Wreckers”, 1906), who was involved in the women’s movement and, in addition to an important mass, composed the “March of the Women” (1910). Her assertiveness paved the way for more British women composers in the 20th century.


In the case of composers who were active in the first half of the 20th century, a clinging to traditional genres and tonality can initially be seen, for example W. Walton, who revived the genre of the oratorio (“Belshazzar’s Feast”, 1931). Suggestions from English folklore also continue to play a major role, as in the work of R. Vaughan Williams, whose new symphonies developed from late romantic beginnings to rugged tonality. He was also an important opera composer – as was M. Tippettand B. Britten, who had his stage works performed by the English Opera Group (ur) he founded in 1947. The first advocates of twelve-tone music and serialism (serial music) were the Webern students H. Searle and Elizabeth Lutyens, who also emerged as theoreticians, and the Schoenberg students E. Wellesz and L. Berkeley, who emigrated to England, with his late work, which was initially influenced by Impressionism and the composer group Les Six.

1953, constituted the direction indicated by a moderately modern style “New Music Manchester Group” to A. Goehr and H. Birtwistle and P. M. Davies together in 1967, the Chamber Ensemble “Pierrot Players” (later named as “The Fires of London”) for performance of contemporary music. The “Societies for the Promotion of Contemporary Music”, which have emerged in various cities, pursue the same purpose.

Overall, the examination of contemporary techniques in modern English music plays only a subordinate role. However, it inspired composers such as B. Ferneyhough, who worked with serial techniques, who, like James Clarke (* 1957), is classified as part of the “New Complexity”, or C. Cardew, who began with avant-garde works but became political in the 1970s Composer in the service of socialism advanced. In contrast, there are composers like J. Tavener with his vocal works inspired by Byzantine church music or M.-A. Turnage with a fusion of traditional-classical and jazz Elements as well as the neo-romantic sounds of Robin Holloway (* 1943). D. Bedford and the most important contemporary English composer, T.Adès, work across borders and repeatedly experiment with the diversity of historical and contemporary styles, techniques and means. Representatives of electronic music are Roger Smalley (* 1943) and Tim Souster (* 1943), who founded the ensemble »Intermodulation« in 1969. Giles Swayne (* 1946) is above all an important choral composer, while Rebecca Saunders (* 1967), who lives in Berlin, is known for her room music.

Musical life

In the field of historical performance practice and the reconstruction and reproduction of old instruments, England played a leading role with pioneers such as A. Dolmetsch, who initiated a renaissance of the recorder in the 1880s. Today, ensembles such as the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the English Baroque Soloists, the Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as well as the Schütz Choir of London and the Monteverdi Choir are among the most renowned performers in this area.

According to sunglassestracker.com, the most significant achievement in music lexicography comes from G. Grove with his “Dictionary of music and musicians” (1879–89), which was first published in the 19th century and which has seen numerous new editions to this day. The library of the British Composers’ Union at the British Music Information Center, London, has the largest collection of contemporary English compositions.

Unlike in Germany, a nationwide musical life developed relatively late in England. In 1858, the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester was the first ever professional ensemble. The musical center of the country is London with high-ranking orchestras such as the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Philharmonia, the English Chamber and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Covent Garden Opera House, in addition to which the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra advanced under the direction by S. Rattle to a world-class ensemble. The Proms (Henry Wood Promenade Concerts), which have been held since 1895 and are now taking place in London’s Royal Albert Hall, are considered to be an English institution, which meanwhile present themselves with their demanding programs as an important mirror of – not only English – contemporary music.

England is of great importance due to the development of beat and rock music in the 1960s (Beatles, Rolling Stones) through to Britpop since the 1990s. In the field of light music, A. Lloyd Webber became world famous with his musicals.

English Music 2