BAXWORKS : 1905-1909
The music of Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953)
Edited by David Parlett from the catalogue by Graham Parlett
- A Connemara Revel
- 68. Also called An Irish Overture. Now lost.
- Leaves, Shadows and Dreams
- 69. For voice and piano. Text: Fiona McLeod, "The Old Bard's Song",
from the play The Immortal Hour.
- In the Silences of the Woods
- 70. For voice and piano. Text: Fiona McLeod.
- Green Branches
- 71. For voice and piano. Text: Fiona McLeod.
- 72. Tone poem, originally the slow movement of the
Quartet in E (GP57).
It contains a quasi-Irish tune that appears, slightly transformed, in both
Into the Twilight and the
- Viking Battle Song
- 77. Words by "Fiona Macleod", orchestrated by Graham Parlett(2007).
- A Song of Life and Love
- 78. Lost.
- A Song of War and Victory
- 79. Not lost.
- A Hushing Song
- 81. Text: "Fiona MacLeod" (William Sharp).
- I fear thy Kisses, Gentle Maiden
- 82. Text: Shelley.
- The Blessed Damozel
- 84. For speaker and piano - "A Musical illustration for performance during
the recital of D G Rossetti's poem".
- The twa Corbies
- 85. Text: Traditional; from Walter Scott's Border Minstrelsy.
- 86. Text: Luke's Gospel. Score headed "After a picture by D G Rossetti".
- Trio in One Movement
- 87. For piano, violin and viola (or clarinet). "An early trio of my own
which I madly allowed to appear in the catalogue of the [Society
of British Composers] has become the very bane of my life; for the firm of
J. & W. Chester, which took over all the publications of the Society
upon [its] demise, has ever been the principal musical link between ourselves
and the Continent, and whenever application is made to them from abroad
for an example of my work that early derivative and formless farrago is
inevitably sent out, with the natural result that European interest in me
is stillborn. I cannot blame Messrs. Chester & Co. (who do not pay rent in
Great Marlborough Street for the good of their health), since this trio is
the only extended work of mine in their list; but I wish the devil would
fly away with the whole remaining stock of the damned thing, and give
himself ptomaine poisoning by eating it!" (Farewell My Youth, pp. 88-9.)
- Echo For Love's Sake Garden Song
- 88, 89, 90, 91. Four songs known only from a list in the 1906-7 Yearbook
of the Society of British Composers and from one of Bax's notebooks
containing mostly cricket scores and batting averages. Text of GP88 ascribed
to Christina Rossetti, GP89 to Ben Jonson. Others by A.B.
- 92. For tenor, chorus and orchestra. Text: Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Vårt
land, from Fänrik Ståls Sägner, translated
from the Swedish by Clifford Bax. Arnold later described it as "the most
moving national poem ever composed". (It was actually written in praise of
Finland.) Revised 1934.
- The Fiddler of Dooney
- 93. Text: W B Yeats, but see next.
- The Enchanted Fiddle
- 94. As above, except that Bax changed the title and wrote new text for the
existing setting while the work was in proof. He later expressed the view
that Yeats's poetry was too good to set to music.
- Symphony in F
- 95. Bax never completed the orchestration: "I was engaged upon a colossal symphony which
would have occupied quite an hour in performance, were such a cloud-cuckoo
dream ever to become a reality". It was eventually orchestrated by
and recorded under him by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2013.
For the record, it lasts 78 minutes. Here are some extracts from Lewis Foreman's
review of the first performance.
- Longing - The Flute (Ideala) - Du Blomst i Dug - From the Hills of Dream
- A Milking Sian - The White Peace - Heart o' Beauty - The Kingdom
- Texts: (96) "Fiona Macleod" (not Friedrich Rückert, as formerly
assumed.) (97) Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsen, (99) P Jacobsen
("O dewy Flower"), (100-103) "Fiona MacLeod". Sian is Gaelic for a chant
or cry, not Siân, the Welsh for Jane. (The missing GP number 98
refers to an incomplete manuscript of apparently incidental music.)
- A Lyke-Wake Dirge
- 105. Text: Anonymous, 15th century Scottish border ballad. Lyke-wake is
the watch kept at night over a dead body (cf lych-gate). Re-done
as one of Three Songs (1933).
- 106. Opera (unfinished) - "A Saga-drama in Five Scenes and a Prologue".
The story of Deirdre first appears in the 12th century Book of
Leinster. Bax recycled parts of it as Into the
Twilight and Rosc-catha.
A third sketch, intended as the opening of Scene V,
was orchestrated by Graham Parlett under the title On the Sea-shore
and has been recorded. "I have no particular gift for opera," wrote Bax in
1949, "and on the whole do not think it is a medium suited to us as a
nation". (My sentiments entirely. - DP.)
- Quintet in G
- 107. For 2 violins, viola, 2 cellos. First performed in 1908, it was
described by one critic as "Elaborate, but dull and diffuse". Its second
performance, by the 'Divertimenti' at the Lichfield Festival of 2001,
revealed this substantial work - in four movements and lasting about 35
minutes - to be full of sparkle, vigour and inventiveness, leaving one to
wonder whether the 1908 critic had been awake and sober at the time. Bax
reworked a theme from the first movement as the piano piece
A Hill Tune (1920) and later
revised the slow movement as
Lyrical Interlude (1922).
- 108. For contralto or baritone, and piano. Text: J P Jacobsen.
- Shieling Song
109. Shieling is grazing-land for cattle. Text: "Fiona MacLeod". Bax
dedicated the song to Mrs William Sharp, the widow of "Fiona MacLeod".
- Into the Twilight
- 110. First in the "Éire" trilogy of tone poems based on Irish subjects,
the others being
In the Faery Hills (below) and
- 111. Text: "Fiona MacLeod".
- The Woodlake
- 112. Text: attributed to Heinrich Leuthold, Der Waldsee. (Score
- 113. Text: William Morris.
- In the Faery Hills
- 114. Second of "Éire" trilogy (together with
Into the Twilight (110, above) and
Rosc-Catha), revised in 1921.
"[It] attempts to suggest the revelries of the 'Hidden People' in the
inmost depths of the hollow hills of Ireland" (A.B.). "[A]n episode in
The Wanderings of Oisin... tells of Niamh's luring of Oisin into
the isles of revelry. There he is greeted by the immortals; but his song
proves too sad for them and seizing his harp they cast it into a deep pool,
drawing the singer into the unending revels" (Colin Scott-Sutherland).
On a similar note, see
also Moy Mell.
- The Garden by the Sea
- 115. Text: William Morris (who actually wrote "A Garden by
- A Christmas Carol
- 116. Text: Anonymous, 15th century.
- Aspiration - Beloved, even in Dreams - The Dance Ring - Enlightenment -
Home - Ideala
- 117 - 122. Texts: Richard Dehmel, except GP118 attributed to Friedrich
Rückert and 119 to Otto Bierbaum (scores untraced).