Re: Favourite British Classical Composer
Posted by stevie57 on 26/3/2020, 6:18 am, in reply to "Favourite British Classical Composer"
Music has not been generally our strongest contribution to European culture and arts, but from your list, Purcell is probably the only one who comes close to being a genuine ‘A’ list composer. |
Arthur Sullivan was extremely good at what he did, the collaborations with WS Gilbert have rightly stood the test of time; much of the rest of Sullivan’s music has a richly deserved place in anonymity.
Strictly speaking, Handel should be on the list as he became a British citizen; as such, he stands head and shoulders above everyone on the list.
I would have added Thomas Tallis and William Byrd to your list, the greatest of a surprisingly long list of very fine composers from the Renaissance; this was really the only time when English composers were equal to the best in Europe, though some may argue that this was again true in the 20th century.
The list is British composers born from the late-19th century to the present day is several times larger than all the rest put together, as is reflected by your list; it also includes for the first time really, some notable women composers such as Ethel Smythe. Some people nominating favourites have picked composers from this modern and or contemporary period not in your original ten.
‘Favourite’ is of course not the same thing as ’Greatest’, in truth I am struggling to name a single composer as either. Perhaps a favourite English piece which would also be a candidate for greatest as well would be the stupendous 40 part motet by Tallis ‘Spem in Alium’ (not clever enough to post a link).
Britain has always historically imported foreign composers, Handel in the eighteenth century was by no means an isolated case and he was followed by Haydn (spectacularly), then Mendelssohn and Chopin and a string of others in the 19th century. Britain has always been better at writing about music than actually writing it; the music reviews and criticism of Bernard Shaw is some of the wittiest most incisive writing I have ever read.
Sir Thomas Beecham, after conducting a ‘festival’ of English music once remarked, ‘Well, I think we have successfully paved the way this afternoon for another quarter of a century of German music’; and on another occasion, ‘British music is in a state of perpetual promise. It might almost be said to be one long promissory note’. I can’t remember the source of my third quote, but to paraphrase, the British know nothing about music but like the noise it makes!