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WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1908-1988) by PAUL CONWAY


Courtesy of the Scottish Music Centre

In a personal tribute to William Wordsworth, the Rev. Campbell M. Maclean, a close friend of the composer, offered this character portrait1:

‘Bill was a hard man to know. He was chronically shy, reticent, and impenetrably private. His taciturnity was such as to inhibit conversation. The most he could contribute was a laconic phrase or, more likely, a curt adverb, the most characteristic of which was “possibly”’.

The Rev. Maclean continues with a telling description by of Wordsworth’s reaction to the highly successful première of his Symposium, for solo violin and orchestra in Edinburgh in March 1973, after which he was invited to join the performers on the platform and receive a well deserved ovation:

‘If ever an event called for some additional celebration, say a jubilant carousal with a few select friends, here we had it. Conversation an hour later at my home:

SELF: “I thought Leonard Friedman played the solo part superbly”

W.W.: “Did you?” in his dry, clipped tones.

SELF: “There must surely be additional performances after such a convincing first.”

W.W.: “Possibly” in his languid, posh accent.

Now is the time, I said to myself, to uncork the champagne bottle and toasts all round.

W.W.: “well, bed for me.”2

This lack of self-indulgence was an attitude he extended to his compositions, whose distinction owes not a little to an absence of empty rhetoric. Ironically, for someone so reticent in speech, many of the titles he gave his works suggest a form of discourse, such as Conversation, for two cellos and piano, Op.74 (1962), Dialogue, for horn and piano, Op.77 (1965), Conversation Piece, for viola and guitar, Op.113 (1982) and the aforementioned Symposium, though the ‘discussion’ involved in these pieces is of a musical nature and in this he was a master, as evidenced in his symphonic works and, perhaps most authentically, in his series of six very fine string quartets.

William Brocklesby3Wordsworth, a great-great grandson of the poet’s brother Christopher, was born in London on 17 December 1908. As he was considered too delicate a child to attend school, most of his non-musical education came from his father, a Church of England parson. His interest in music became predominant when he was about 12 years of age. At this time, he was receiving piano lessons from a Miss Sterry, a member of the Religious Arts Society which used to meet at the Wordsworths’ home in Hindhead, Surrey. She suggested he might enhance his musical training by studying with the composer George Oldroyd, who was choirmaster and organist at St Michael’s, Croydon. So he became a chorister at St Michael’s and between 1921 and 1931, studied harmony, counterpoint, singing and three instruments (viola, piano and organ) with Oldroyd. At the end of this period, Three Hymn Preludes for organ, Op.1 (1932) was published.

In 1934 he was invited to become a pupil of Sir Donald Tovey in Edinburgh. His three years of study with the composer, teacher and musicologist were a result of his sending a violin and piano sonata4 to the great man, who, impressed by the talent displayed in it by this young unknown, immediately consented to receive him as a pupil. From Tovey, he acquired a respect for and command of traditional genres, though his approach to these forms was always very personal. In a posthumous tribute, Wordsworth wrote of his inspiring tutor, ‘One felt one knew for the first time what words like “genius” and “greatness” really meant, when one had been in his company.’5 Much later, with characteristic hesitation, he was to dedicate his second symphony ‘To the memory of Donald Tovey, whose understanding love of music has been an abiding inspiration.’

After leaving Edinburgh without taking a degree at the University, and being of independent means, he was able to follow his instincts and devote himself entirely to composition, producing his first large-scale works in the late 1930s. Pacifism was an essential part of his character6 and for several years before the outbreak of the Second World War, he was associated with the Peace Pledge Union and, for some years, acted as secretary of the Hindhead Fellowship of Reconciliation Group. During this time he knew Max Plowman and John Middleton Murry very well and also counted among his friends Miss Nellie “Kay” Gill, a professional violinist and musical patron who organised chamber concerts in her house next-door to the Wordsworths; he always maintained that his long friendship with her much strengthened his development both as a composer and as pacifist; she was also perhaps something of a surrogate mother figure to him, his own mother having died when he was 167. It was inevitable that he should take his stand as a conscientious objector and when war came, he was consigned to work on the land8, music giving way to agriculture as the primary claim on his time. Nevertheless, he still took an opportunity at night, after the day’s farm work was done, to write music. In fact, compositions dating from this time such as the first symphony and first and second string quartets were the first to attract critical attention, his earliest breakthrough arising when his String Quartet No.1 in D, Op.16 won the Clements Memorial Prize in 1941. His vocal music from this time met with less success: The Houseless Dead, Op.14 (1939), a setting of D. H. Lawrence for baritone solo, chorus and orchestra, remains unperformed and his largest work, the oratorio Dies Domini, for three soloists, chorus and large orchestra, written between 1942 and 1944 and praised by Vaughan Williams, is also still awaiting its first performance (it was rejected by the BBC for broadcast on the Third Programme and Home Service in 1960)9. While working in Hampshire, he met Frieda Robson, also an ardent pacifist, and in 1945 they were married. After the war, he became even more prolific and many of his earlier works were published for the first time. The next fifteen years or so were his most productive in terms of performances and recognition.

He served on the Executive Committee of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain for five years from 1955, and was elected Chairman four years later. Arising from his work with the Guild, in the Spring of 1961, along with Thea Musgrave, he undertook a fortnight’s tour of the Soviet Union at the invitation of the Union of Soviet Composers of Moscow, where he met, among other composers, Shostakovich and Khachaturian. He gave a speech during the tour, which began in a characteristically self-deprecating tone: ‘I believe I share with your most famous composer, Shostakovich, one characteristic – an extreme distaste for speaking in public. For an occasion such as this, I could wish that the floor would open and I could disappear. I could wish also that the resemblance between me and Shostakovich did not end there, but I cannot be so arrogant as to pretend that my compositions are on a level with his!’

In 1961 he moved, with his family, from Hindhead to the Scottish Highlands to live at Kincraig in Inverness-shire. The view from his study window across the top of the pines to the mountains above Glen Feshie was a rich inspiration to him. During the course of a ‘Composer’s Portrait’ broadcast by the BBC in July 1967, he confessed, ‘I have always had joy in the grander aspects of Nature – mountains, storms, spacious views, and in the ever-changing colours of the Scottish Highlands. I cannot say if there has been any change in my style of writing since we came to live in Scotland, but I would like to think that it is becoming clearer and less complicated, more direct in its expression. In fact all the things it should not be, if one wants to be successful in the present musical fashions.’

He was appointed Regional Representative of the Composers’ Guild for Scotland in 1965, and (with Robert Crawford, his predecessor in that office), was largely responsible for the formation of a Scottish Branch of that body in 1966, of which he was Chairman until 1970; his social awkwardness did not extend to fellow composers and he hosted weekends at his house for members of the Scottish Branch of the Guild such as Thomas Wilson (who became a good friend), John Maxwell Geddes, David Dorward, Robert Crawford and Shaun Dillon. As well as an opportunity for dealing with business matters of the Guild, they were very social affairs with walking, sightseeing, fishing and wine making, as well as offering a chance to listen enthusiastically to tapes of each other’s music and discuss it constructively in a supportive environment.

Apart from music, which was the focus of his life, Wordsworth enjoyed reading, especially poetry – among his works may be numbered several poetry settings. His hobbies included gardening, golf, bee-keeping, fishing, chess and woodwork (amid the numerous documents touching on various musical matters in his archive in the Scottish Music Centre, Glasgow, are receipts for various power tools!). He regarded himself as a ‘handyman’, making and putting up his own shelves and constructing a radio transistor with the aid of a soldering iron. He also made model steam engines in his workshop, equipped with a lathe. Gadgets were a particular passion and one of his treasured possessions in later life was an electronic chess set.

Two deep sorrows darkened his last decades. In 1971, his elder son Tim was killed at the age of 23 in a motor accident near Pitlochry on his way back to London. Though the composer was devastated, he initially suffered in silence, but his grief eventually found expression in two works. The first, Adonais, for mixed voices, Op.97 (1974) is an imposing setting of words taken from Shelley’s long poem written in memory of Keats and a moving evocation of the transience of life. The second, Symphony No.6 Elegiaca, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra, Op.102 (1977) is dedicated simply ‘In memory, Tim’. This work also sets words from Shelley’s Adonais, as well as John Donne’s Meditation XVII and Edna St. Vincent Millais’ Dirge Without Music; regrettably, it is his only symphony still awaiting its first performance. The second blow came in 1982 when his wife Frieda died. According to Rev. Maclean, ‘Bill was lost. Lovely, fresh, engaging Frieda spoke for him, managed him, decided for him. Without her, he became a bundle of untidy clothes, a vagrant in search of dependency.’10 In the same year as her death, he wrote a work for string quartet, later rescored for string orchestra, which he called Elegy for Frieda, an eloquent love song of enraptured, fond recollection and cherished intimacy. Ill health dogged his final years and his creativity all but dried up. His last completed work was a symphony, his eighth, subtitled Pax Hominibus. He died in Kingussie on 10 March 1988, aged 79.

William Wordsworth’s large and varied oeuvre embraced many forms, including orchestral, chamber and instrumental music, many songs and music for radio. It is impossible to do justice to the full range of his considerable output in the space of this article, therefore the following pieces have been selected for consideration on the basis that they are either significant works or representative of his contribution to a genre.

One of his first important compositions to appear after his studies with Tovey was the Sinfonia in A minor, for string orchestra, Op.6 (1939). It received its first performance (apparently in a much revised version11) given by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli on 15 July 1952 at that year’s Cheltenham Festival. The opening Allegretto evolves from a simple descending phrase on the cellos with a complementary theme. Contrapuntal in style, its mood is cordial and innocent. A lively jig in G major and 9/8 time follows, earthy and bucolic, owing something, perhaps, to Holst’s St Paul’s Suite. The time changes to 12/8 and the key to D flat major for the more deliberate and richly romantic ‘trio’ section; the subtle metamorphosis of the trio’s material to the return to the jig is an early intimation of the composer’s skilful handling of transition passages. The Andante begins with a brief muted introduction to the principal melody on violas, taken up by cellos. The mood intensifies as the phrase from the introduction is inverted, but the movement ends in the quiet peace of C major. The Allegro molto finale’s thematic ingredients are direct and straightforward, but they accumulate expansively and are heard, impressively, in unison in the coda. The work ends in a majestic flourish.

A genial work, the Sinfonia’s language and temperament are not fully representative of the mature composer, though the craftsmanship certainly is. Like Malcolm Arnold’s early Symphony for Strings, Op.13 (1946), it provided a good introductory exercise for the composer in symphonic writing. Mindful that he had turned down a number of other scores by Wordsworth for performance, including the second symphony, Barbirolli was very enthusiastic about this piece, writing to the composer that he was ‘very much looking forward to doing your Sinfonia for Strings at Cheltenham as I enjoyed reading it very much indeed’, going on to describe is ‘a work of yours I really like’.12 After the Cheltenham première, the Times reviewer wrote that ‘the work is shot through with that gentle mellowness and quiet beauty which characterises so much of the English landscape, and its friendly, predominantly diatonic idiom should have done a lot to win over even the stoutest opponent to contemporary music.’13 In his review for the Musical Times, Mosco Carner questioned why such an early piece of Wordsworth’s was chosen for performance in preference to his later work, the Sinfonia being, in his view, ‘as characteristic of his greatest achievements as the chrysalis is of the butterfly.’14

The Piano Sonata in D minor, Op.13 was begun in 1938 and completed the following year. The first of its three movements is the most substantial and wide ranging. A sombre and searching Maestoso introduction, in the lower registers of the keyboard conveys a sense of preparing for an epic journey. An intense, hushed figure marked parlando provides a foretaste of the ensuing Allegro deciso’s first subject, direct and spirited. Marked Allegretto, the secondary material is characterised by a poetic simplicity and delicacy; this mood is overshadowed by the arrival of the development section that reviews and elaborates the preceding material. The recapitulation is of similar proportions to the exposition, though the first subject has been tamed into a gentler, more flowing and airy incarnation of its former self. Dominating the coda is the haunting presence of the expressive parlando figure, before an incisive final Allegro provides a swift but firm conclusion to an elaborate and assured opening movement.


In contrast, the Largamente a calmato slow movement is bathed in half-lights, introspective and brooding; its mood of otherworldly tranquillity is summoned up by a steady traversal of fluctuating tonalities. Progress becomes increasingly reflective and tentative until, without a break, the Allegro molto finale skips in quietly, its initially capering semiquavers leading to sturdier material. Motifs from the first movement subtly weave their way in to the gossamer textures, until, near the end, there is a re-appearance of the poignant parlando figure. The Finale’s whirling semiquavers briefly attempt to reassert themselves, bringing the sonata to a decisive, upbeat conclusion, but that affecting motto theme, an unmistakably human element in this epic drama, persists in the memory. The work has recently appeared, along with two later piano works by Wordsworth, the Cheesecombe Suite, Op.27 (1945) and Ballade, Op.41 (1949) and sonatas by Michael Tippett and Ian Hamilton, in historical mono recordings by Margaret Kitchin on a 2-CD Lyrita release (REAM.2106).

The Theme and Variations for Small Orchestra, Op.19 (1943) consists of seven variations and a finale on a theme of pastoral character given out in turn by clarinet and oboe. The first variations follow the theme closely, whilst in the later ones, the relationship derives more from phrase lengths. The last variation breaks off, leading straight into the finale, which begins with a slow fugal treatment of the theme and then becomes more energetic. As the composer observed in his programme note to the piece, ‘there is nothing to alarm the ordinary music-lover in the style of the work, which is mainly diatonic.’ This little piece demonstrates that Wordsworth could never admit a trite or slipshod expression or settle for slovenly or makeshift passages even in his lighter works.

Symphony No.1 in F minor, Op.23 (1944) is a substantial and powerful first essay in a form he was to make his own. The initial theme of the Allegro Maestoso first movement sets the tone for the whole work, strident, angular and aggressive. The Adagio ma non troppo second movement provides some respite with its lyrically expressive opening material for first violins. Two fugal passages, one ascending from the lower strings, the other descending from the upper woodwind are a reminder of his classical training with Tovey: in his later works, such ‘academic’ devices would be less obvious, growing more naturally out of the material. The ensuing scherzo, marked Allegro con brio, is one of the composer’s first forays into the grotesque, with gurgling bassoons and screaming violins attending an oddly brusque and convulsive martial main theme, presaging Havergal Brian’s spasmodic march music in his Symphony No.8 of 1949. There is a strong sense of irony, made clear by the ‘pomposo’ marking of the central trio-like section. After a slow, brooding introductory passage, the Allegro main theme of the Finale returns to the combative mood of the first movement, whose principal idea recurs near the end. A decisive conclusion is reached in the tonic key of F major, but it has been hard won.

The symphony has been broadcast on a couple of occasions, but has not yet received a public performance, where its powerful gestures and towering climaxes would register more effectively than within the confines of an enclosed studio. It was first performed in 1946 in a studio recording by the BBC Northern Orchestra under Julius Harrison and the broadcast of this performance caused some consternation at the BBC: this was in the days before the Third Programme, so it went out on the home service between a cricket commentary and a variety programme. The four loud discords on the brass with which the symphony begins led to a mass switch-off by offended listeners and many letters of protest. Nevertheless, Edward Sackville West wrote, after the broadcast, ‘I feel it to be important to call attention to this composer’s indubitable gift…its seriousness and purely musical intensity, and its many technical virtues, seem to me to place its composer among the few whom it would be foolish to ignore.’ It has been described by Michael Kennedy as having the ‘overtones of war or spiritual strife.’15

The String Trio in G minor, Op.25 was composed in 1945 and given its first performance two years later by the Carter Trio, to whom the work is dedicated. It was heard at the 1948 Edinburgh Festival and received several subsequent performances, internationally. In four movements, the Trio is characterised by a highly individual treatment of the thematic ideas – the frequent opposing of two parts against a third, in unisons or octaves, sometimes flowing, sometimes driving figures of accompaniment, ostinato basses and multiple rhythms, with a texture often contrapuntal in style, all lending a vitality and brilliance to the music. An early indication of Wordsworth’s command and understanding of chamber music, the String Trio’s four short movements are quite consciously direct in form and content. Malcolm Rayment has referred to the piece as ‘…concise and masterly.’16

Though dedicated to Clifford Curzon, it was John Hunt who took up Wordsworth’s Piano Concerto in D minor, Op.28 (1946), and was the soloist at its first performance at a concert in the Royal Albert Hall in London in April 1947. The concerto is cast as a single, continuous movement subdivided into sections and attempts to emphasise the dramatic conflict of the solo instrument with the orchestra inherent in the form. In his talk ‘Thinking in Music’, the composer revealed that, whilst writing this piece, the verbal-literary idea of the impotence of the individual in the modern world, and at the same time the faith that it is only through the individual that the mass can be tamed and redeemed came strongly to him. This idea is reflected in the concerto, with the soloist as the individual pitted against the orchestra as the crowd. If the piano is overwhelmed by the orchestra, it finally emerges not by force, but by starting a melody in which the orchestra can be persuaded to join in. The composer was at pains to point out, however, that ‘the mental-verbal idea of the relation of the individual and the crowd is not necessary to an understanding of the music, because it is (I hope) quite clear in the music itself what is going on, and there is a very good musical reason why it should work out so.’

A short introduction (Poco Adagio) leads to an exposition (Allegro Feroce, D minor) of the main themes of the work by the orchestra alone. The solo instrument enters, and expands and develops the themes, leading to a gradual relaxation of tension. The central section (Adagio, B major), the most beautiful part of the work, is mainly concerned with an expansion of a short phrase from the introduction in contemplative dialogue between piano and orchestra. The soloist then leads the orchestra in a resumption of the Allegro Feroce, which increases in violence until the soloist brings in a new, highly decorated version of one of the original themes. The cadenza follows, ending with a reference to the theme of the Adagio section. The coda consists of a new version of some of the themes of the introduction, in D major, in which piano and orchestra co-operate. It includes a brief reappearance of the Adagio theme.

Reviewing the concerto in the New Statesman, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, suggested the composer was ‘…now emerging into the secure enjoyment of his talent. It [the concerto] is singularly free from modern inhibitions about direct emotional appeal and beauty of sheer sound. The solo writing is for the most part decorative rather than showy; this fact should not deter our pianists from taking up a work which makes so valuable and attractive an addition to their repertory.’

String Quartet No.3 in A, Op.30, dedicated to the composer’s wife Frieda, was completed in the Spring of 1947 and first performed on 1 July 1948 as part of that year’s Cheltenham Festival. It is in three movements, played without a break. The expressive theme first heard at the start of the quartet, marked Andante molto tranquillo, is given out by the first violin and the viola; this soon gives place to a group of themes in a more lively tempo (12/8 Allegretto), which are worked out in sonata form; at the end of the first statement of these themes, hints of the opening theme may be heard. The movement ends with a new version of the Andante Tranquillo and the final bars contain a hint of the martial rhythm of the following movement. The central movement (Allegro alla Marcia, C minor) is in direct contrast to the pastoral and contemplative first movement, being mainly quick and aggressive in character. There are, however, references to the initial theme of the quartet, though this is given a more restless character, in keeping with the general mood of the movement, by the adjustments of rhythm to which it is subjected. The movement eventually fades into the distance from which it first emerged, again with a brief allusion to the following Andante espressivo finale, which is built on an expansion of the Andante theme from the first movement, treated first in the manner of a passacaglia, and later in a more energetic fugal style (Allegretto). A return to the slower tempo of the opening of the movement, leads to a short concluding Allegro section, ending decisively on an A major chord.

One of the composer’s most powerful works, the String Quartet No.3 evinces his confident grasp of the medium. The performance of the Allegri String Quartet on a long-deleted Discurio LP (CD001) shows its variety of mood and texture to advantage and it would be good to see this recording reissued, or a new interpretation captured on disc. Writing in the Daily Telegraph on 21 December 1964, Michael Kennedy observed, ‘here is a work of dark and sombre beauty, harmonically presenting few problems to ears hostile to “modern music” and shaped with the born composer’s mastery of economical material…It is thoughtful music, and haunts the listener long after it is over.’

When Wordsworth submitted his Second Symphony in D major, Op.34 (1948) to the B.B.C. for consideration in 1948, those who were responsible for reading scores for the organisation decided it wasn’t suitable for their programmes (years later he found out the panel had included his friend and fellow composer William Alwyn, a discovery which did not affect their friendship). Wordsworth was doubtful about this decision as he was sure that if his first symphony had been suitable, then his second would be too. As the Edinburgh Festival Society had announced that it was awarding a prize (in the form of a cheque for £150) for the best symphony, the composer felt he had nothing to lose by submitting it to the Festival authorities and was delighted to hear it had been chosen as the winning work out of more than 60 entries submitted from 13 countries. It was commended by Sir Arthur Bliss, the final adjudicator of the competition, in these words: ‘A symphony in the truest sense of the word. Each of the four contrasting movements is firmly built and skilfully formed.’ Wordsworth was not so pleased to find that, as their Reading Panel had turned down the work, the B. B. C. felt themselves unable to broadcast the opening concert of the Festival, in spite of the fact that the concert was being given in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, a decision that led the music critic of The Listener to write that he could think of no other country whose broadcasting organisation would ignore the first performance of a new Symphony by one of its nationals which had carried off the prize in a worldwide competition sponsored by the Festival authorities.

The Symphony was composed between September 1947 and January 1948. It is scored for double woodwind, triple brass (with tuba ad lib), timpani and cymbals, and strings. It is in four movements, but the composer, as in several of his other works, makes use of a modified version of cyclic form where the ‘motto’ theme is an organic part of the whole. This motto theme is the initial long melody on bassoons and cellos which contains all the notes of the chromatic scale. This permeates the whole work and the composer later ascribed its nature to his recent reading of Paul Hindemith’s book The Craft of Musical Composition17. The Presto second movement is a lively scherzo with something of the night about it; traces of the long ‘motto’ theme are used in the more lyrical and quieter middle section. The Adagio molto cantabile third movement is the most deeply-felt part of the work. A slow sequence of sombre chords introduces a long-breathed melody in D major on clarinet and lower strings which rises, again with traces of the first movement’s basic idea, to a quiet end. The finale (Allegro molto) is based on an aggressive theme in a fast tempo, repeated three times, leading to a repeated dissonant chord. This subsides to a quieter section based on a three-fold repetition of a fresh, more compact version of the original 12-note theme from the first movement, leading to a bright D major chord on the brass, which the basses try unsuccessfully to disrupt with a repeated E flat. The work ends on a note of triumphal brilliance with a positive and unambiguous statement of the chord of D major by the full orchestra.

With this work, Wordsworth proved beyond doubt he could command long-range technique. In other words, he was a born symphonist. Writing in the News Chronicle on 20 August 1951, Scott Goddard commented that it ‘…has perhaps not so much wit as an elusive humour and certainly a dignity and integrity which bring it near to the classical idea of what a symphony should be…It is music of a brooding thoughtfulness and has about it a restrained intensity which leads one on and then ends by hiding more than it reveals.’ The Yorkshire Post critic described it as ‘…a lovely, immediately attractive work’, observing that ‘…one feels that further knowledge of this score may show the Symphony to be a very important addition to English music.’ The London première of the work on 9 December 1952 was rather less well received by London-based reviewers: an unnamed author in The Musical Times, said ‘one is forced to admit, however reluctantly, that one does not particularly want to hear it again’, claiming that he missed ‘any sense of burning imagination behind the music.’18 C. G-F, writing in Musical Opinion, was even less complimentary: ‘such music is utterly unlovely and it had the effect of removing people from the [Festival] hall after each movement’, though the work ‘aroused respect for the composer’s integrity of purpose and technical command.’19 The symphony was very successfully recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Nicholas Braithwaite the Third Symphony and released on the Lyrita label (Lyrita SRCD.207).

Wordsworth’s Oboe Quartet, Op.44 (1949) was written for the Cartier String Trio and dedicated to Leon Goosens and the Cartier String Trio, who gave the work’s first performance at Cheltenham Town Hall on 12 July 1950 as part of that year’s Cheltenham Festival. It is in two movements, the first combines some of the expressive features of a slow movement with the more energetic type of writing characteristic of a first movement. It is cast in the form of a kind of fantasia in several subdivisions, beginning with a slow section (Poco Adagio) consisting of a dark hued theme, laced with exotic arabesques, given out by the oboe and a more flowing passage initiated by the strings. This works up to a brief climax which quickly subsides, and gives place to a spirited group of themes in a quicker tempo (Allegretto); the last of these themes (a playful subject in 6/8 rhythm) pretends to seek the opening mood, but is prevented from doing so by the oboe in a remarkable episode full of ominous disquiet. Then follows a shortened repetition of the Allegretto section which, this time, is allowed to subside and return to the Poco adagio – a return which brings the movement to a nostalgic close.

This is followed by a more vehement scherzo-finale marked Allegro molto, e Giocoso. It is mostly fast and furious, but, as the word Giocoso indicates, its ferocity is not to be taken too seriously. It is in sonata-rondo form, with a vivacious first subject, shared in turn by all the instruments, but the dolce lyrical second subject is given over to the oboe over lightly scored arpeggios on the strings. There is almost no development and the themes are restated; then, as the recapitulation merges into the coda, the oboe alludes to the important adagio idea with which the first movement begins. The strings, however, impatiently tug at the rhythm, and with a sharp quickening of the pace the work ends in bravura exuberance. Colin Mason described the Oboe Quartet as ‘an attractive and interesting work, in Wordsworth’s best vein, serious and satisfying in content, yet light and easy in tone and manner.’20

Three Wordsworth Songs, Op.45 were written in 1950 for the centenary of the poet’s death; they combine two areas of musical expression, the song and chamber music, which the composer has consistently turned to throughout his creative life. The three songs featured are Westminster Bridge, Daffodils, a typical Wordsworth scherzo, and finally, Calais Beach, whose closing bars end in a mood of hushed serenity (the composer used this last setting as the basis of the second movement of his subsequent work, the String Quartet No.4 in A minor, Op.47). The fact that the composer is treating words by one of his own relatives serves to heighten the sense of intimacy and the music is used sparingly, enhancing the beauty and natural rhythm of the words. As an introduction to his style, these little pieces could not be bettered. They have been appeared on LP twice: initially by Alexander Young and the Allegri String Quartet for Discurio (DC 001) and, more recently, by Ian Partridge and the Alberni String Quartet on the CRD label (CRD 1097); sadly neither version is currently available on disc.

Symphony No.3 in C major, Op.48 (1951), dedicated to Bernard de Nevers, was first performed on 11 June 1953 by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli at Cheltenham Town Hall as part of that year’s Cheltenham Festival. Like the second symphony, it is scored for a standard orchestra of double woodwind, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, percussion and strings, the only extras being the use of a gong in the first and last movements and a celesta in the second. After the difficulties Wordsworth had experienced in attempting to get his second symphony performed, he aimed to make its successor directly accessible in a more concise form.

There are three movements, of which the first, marked Allegretto scioltamente has the character of both a traditional sonata-form and a scherzo. After a few preliminary bars establishing a rhythm, the main subject is presented by the violins, a purposeful theme, hinting at the primary clash of tonalities (C and C sharp minor) which is a recurring feature of the work. As a pendent to this theme, the woodwind introduce a scherzando feature in the form of a descending figure. A more significant theme, lyrical and graced with flowing triplets, is heralded by the flute. The development section concentrates on these three elements. The recapitulation begins quietly with fresh statements of the principal themes, culminating in a fugato episode on the main subject, the semiquavers of which provide a final flourish and an insistence on the C sharp-C natural clash.

A simple ternary movement, the sustained central Andante has a gently expressive main theme played by cellos and violas and then elaborated in fantasia style by various instruments. In the middle section, the celesta enters, memorably, with a mysterious and exotic theme of its own. Then the first part is resumed with much elaboration in the form of arabesques and at the end the celesta has a last little flourish over a sustained chord.

The Allegro deciso finale reflects, rather than quotes, some suggestion of the earlier material. It is a kind of summing up of the rather unsettled tonalities of the symphony and its basic ideas, which are insistent throughout. The predominant theme is a rich, almost Brahmsian largamente melody for strings. There is a last minute attempt on the part of the intrusive C sharp, trilled out on the woodwind, to prevail against the stubborn assertion of the strings that the real key of the symphony is C major.

The Music Critic for The Times wrote that Wordsworth’s third example in the genre ‘showed a marked advance in sheer striking power’ and that ‘it made its decisive appeal to an audience thus grown truly critical and there is not likely to be any dissent from its decision.’21 Donald Mitchell was less than enthusiastic about the work, commenting that ‘as for the symphony’s intended and much praised ‘light-weight’ content, I am inclined to the opinion that Mr. Wordsworth’s lighter inspirations would have been more felicitously expressed within the confines of a structure of less weighty pretensions.’22 The Third Symphony is one of the composer’s most popular and often-performed works. Barbirolli himself conducted it no fewer than eight times in its first year alone, including performances in Manchester and Sheffield, as well as at a Promenade Concert. It has also been heard often on the radio, initially with on the BBC Overseas Service by Barbirolli, and more recently in broadcasts by the BBC Scottish Symphony and Ulster Orchestras. In 1990 a fine performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Nicholas Braithwaite the Third Symphony was released by Lyrita (SRCD.207).

Symphony No. 4, Op.54 was written during the first half of 1953 and is dedicated ‘in affectionate admiration’ to Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra, who premièred it at the Edinburgh Festival, though the conductor never performed it again because he found a particular passage in 10/8 difficult to conduct, according to Wordsworth.23 Unlike its predecessors, it is in one continuous movement. The Poco Adagio slow introduction’s opening theme, rising and falling on the flute, is prophetic of much that is to come, and the chord of E flat clashing against the first phrase is also characteristic. After the introduction of further material germane to the rest of the symphony, two sharply uttered chords emphasising the key of E flat announce the arrival of the main Allegro, composed of two contrasted main subjects, a brisk, purposeful tune introduced by first violins and flutes derived from the inaugural theme and, eventually, on strings and woodwind, a contrasting second subject, strong yet gentler in mood and less tense in harmony, in a rolling 6/4: this melody sounds almost self-consciously Elgarian, more specifically a second cousin to the magisterial con dignità opening theme of the finale of Elgar’s Second Symphony (also in E flat) and perhaps, bearing in mind the work’s dedication, fashioned specifically to appeal to Barbirolli. A falling phrase a few bars further on is noteworthy. Shortly, through widely spaced tremolando strings, a trumpet brings back the primary theme of the symphony in the dominant key of B flat and the first section of the symphony is ended; then, in place of the expected ‘development’ of these, the music passes directly to an extended march-like section and then to a slow section in which the flute has key material. The final part of the symphony serves not only to recapitulate the opening Allegro, but also to recall parts of the intervening march and slow section; the opening themes of the work are heard, driving the music up to its energetic, exultant conclusion.

The Divertimento in D for orchestra, Op.58 (1954) was commissioned by Stewart Deas for Sheffield University’s Jubilee Concert, where it was premièred by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli on 18 March 1955. The main theme of the work consists of the notes D E A S (or E flat), spelling out the surname of Sheffield University’s then Professor of Music, the work’s dedicatee. The first movement (Overture) consists of a short, slow introduction giving out the main theme and leading into an Allegro starting with the first three notes of the theme on the trumpets. This grows into a long tune which, with various subsidiary ideas, dominates the rest of the movement. The slow introduction recurs at the end in a fuller form. The slow movement (Air) begins with the main theme inverted (D C G C sharp). From the first three notes of this theme in a different key an extended melody is derived, given out first by the oboe. This melody and a series of quiet chords given to the divided strings are the main elements of the movement. The finale (Gigue) starts with a lively 12/8 version of the main theme the right way up, given out by the flute, and taken up by the strings and brass. It is followed by a long tune on the strings, and a shorter syncopated new theme first heard on the woodwind. The rest of the movement consists of repetition and development of these ideas, leading to a jubilant end.

Having heard a radio broadcast of the Divertimento, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote William Wordsworth a brief letter to express his admiration of the work, stating that it had ‘originality without eccentricity’, an apt summation of Wordsworth’s musical output as a whole. RVW finished by suggesting that it ought to be expanded into a four movement symphony, owing to the existing movements’ being ‘symphonic in size and character.’24

In the Violin Concerto in A major, Op.60 (1955), the tough first movement exemplifies the composer’s command of large-scale structure and expressive clarity. The Adagio cantabile slow movement contains an idyllic duet between violin and horn. After a slow introduction (Allegretto), the Allegro Spiritoso finale is exceptionally lively and extremely skilfully scored for a large percussion section (cymbal, gong, side drum, bass drum, wooden box) requiring three players, which never drowns out the soloist, thanks to the composer’s sensitivity to textures. The use of the vibraphone throughout adds a very specific mid-1950s atmosphere, such as that encountered in Vaughan Williams’ contemporaneous Symphony No.8. Michael Kennedy wrote that it was the composer’s ‘best large-scale work to date, showing an extra warmth and ease of melodic style…Violinists should welcome this addition to their repertoire, a concerto free from academic restraints and inhibitions.’25 It is one of Wordsworth’s finest works, ranking alongside the Cello Concerto and Symphony No.5 in terms of expert handling of large-scale form and imaginative use of instrumental colour.

String Quartet No.5 in G minor, Op.63 was written in the Spring of 1957 for the Hirsch Quartet, who played it for the first time on 12 July at that year’s Cheltenham Festival. However, the composer was not satisfied with the last movement and rewrote it during 1977-78. The quartet is in three movements and the general mood of the work is cheerful, though the opening of the first and last movements might not suggest this. Characteristically, the first six bars of the Andante tranquillo introduction furnish much of the material of the rest of the work. After an Allegro vivace scherzo-like second movement arising from the same two motives which opened the previous movement, the finale is by far the most substantial of the quartet’s three movements, both in terms of its weighty character and its duration. It begins Adagio with a new and haunting theme. References to the opening material of the quartet are heard. This Adagio alternates in rondo fashion with lighter allegro sections, in which the material already heard is developed. The movement concludes with further brief passages of allegro and adagio is alternation, and the music dies away (in G major) with the serenity in which it began. So ends one of Wordsworth’s most impressive chamber works, whose crisp rhythms, graceful phrasing and intricate structure is suggestive of the consummate quartet writing of Egon Wellesz.

The Symphony No.5 in A minor, Op.68 was written between 1957 and 1960 and first played in a broadcast concert by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult on the BBC. Third Programme on 5 October 1962. After the fourth symphony’s single-movement structure, the fifth return to a three-movement design, each of which is dominated by one aspect – thematic, rhythmic, or harmonic – of the strong theme which thrusts upwards on cellos and basses at the outset. The scoring of the first movement is light in character but is not lacking in sonority. Groups of instruments play in concertante fashion. The long closing diminuendo of the first movement, in which the solo violin weaves its arabesques over a rich and delicately etched background emphasises Wordsworth’s power to produce impressive music from traditional harmonic devices. In the Allegro central movement the ‘motto’ theme received further revealing transmutations, aided by some judicious use of percussion and in the Allegro finale, after a haunting slow introduction, there are fresh, transformations like a sequence of variations, which enrich the ‘motto’ theme whilst retaining its character. The movement reaches a climactic conclusion which, thanks to its organic development, is both convincing and decisive.

For any listeners familiar with Wordsworth’s symphonic output through the Lyrita recording of his second and third symphonies, the fifth would be a revelation. A world away from the sombre and sometimes greyish hues of the Symphony No.2, it is a riot of colour and seemingly unstoppable invention, yet all stemming from the same source. Along with the Cello and Violin Concertos, it represents the composer at the very peak of his powers in terms of his orchestral works and ranks as one of his finest, most life-affirming utterances in any genre. If any one work of his was crying out to be recorded, this is it. Writing in the Listener on 4 July 1963, Deryck Cook commented, ‘it is a bold and full-organised symphonic drama, whose whole structure arises naturally from its questing initial theme; and it use of familiar gestures – in a brooding first movement, a disquieting scherzo, and a finale of cumulative violence – carries complete conviction’. In the same journal, Michael Kennedy went further, describing the symphony as ‘his finest work to date.’26

The Sonata in C for unaccompanied solo cello, Op.70 (1961) was written for Joan Dickson, who gave the first performance. It is in three movements, of which the opening Andante is characterised by its sinuously curving lines and the haunting bugle-calls that intermittently appear in the upper register. Scrunching rhythms appear in the typically witty central scherzo. Conrad Wilson wrote of the piece that ‘It is a typically poetic, lucidly written work, whose three movements have a tender, confidential quality admirably suited to the warmly narrative tones of the instrument.’27 It offers a prime example of Wordsworth’s gift for writing idiomatically for a particular instrument, whilst retaining his individual voice.

The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Op.73 was written in 1963 but not premièred until a broadcast on 20 January 1975 by the B.B.C. Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Christopher Adey with Moray Welsh as soloist and its first public performance had to wait until 7 May 1979, when Moray Welsh played it again, this time with the Scottish National Orchestra under Bryden Thomson. It is in three movements, of which the first is the longest and most varied, including four contrasting themes: a fragment of scale in contrary motion on the strings with which the movement begins; an ensuing leaping figure on the brass heard before the soloist enters, joined by other instruments in a discussion of both themes heard so far; an energetic fugal figure on strings which through further discussion of the first two main themes leads to a more extended melody given out first by the clarinet and taken up and extended later by the soloist. A short-lived culmination of these leads to an orchestral climax and a longish cadenza for the soloist alone. At the end of this, the orchestra steals in and builds up to a climax with the repetitions and combinations of all four themes. Out of the climax, the soloist emerges and leads to a quiet conclusion based on the first and last themes. The second movement is a Nocturne (marked Lento) which is mostly slow and very quiet, but has a fleetingly tempestuous and nightmarish middle section. The Allegro vivace finale is in rondo form, with a florid and assured main subject derived from a reversal of the first movement’s opening theme. It is a lively movement and mainly light hearted (the second theme is marked Pomposo), though at times the orchestra becomes more aggressive and the cadenza is marked feroce. The concerto is one of the composer’s most directly expressive works, essentially lyrical and enriched by ear-catching sonorities.

The String Quartet No.6, Op.75 was begun in 1963 and completed early the following year, soon after the composer had come to live in the Scottish Highlands. It is dedicated ‘with affection and admiration’ to the Allegri Quartet, who gave the first performance at Gordonstoun School on 8 November 1982. There are three movements, of which the last is the weightiest. The general mood is more light-hearted than many of his previous works, though this is not due to any conscious use of Scottish traditional material to supply the themes. Although there is no motif from which the work evolves, the music is permeated by the interval of a falling fourth, which first appears at the start of the Allegretto vivace first movement, a brilliant, closely argued structure, showing the composer at his most subtle and engaging. The Allegro molto second movement is a scherzo in the form of a rondo, whose dance-like main theme is heard at the start. Its two interludes are based on material from the opening of the quartet. The first two movements are mainly lively and short; the last movement, which, like the fifth quartet, is the longest and most complex, begins with a slow introduction of a more introspective character than the rest of the work with considerable expressive power, as rhapsodic recitatives for cello and first violin alternate with a meditative chordal passage. Presently an increase in tempo signals a return to the quartet’s former cheerful manner, and the rest of the movement is mainly in the more vigorous, extrovert mood of the earlier movements. The style is tonal – in spite of some use of quarter-tones in the last movement – and both the first and last movements end on C.

The writing in this witty and graceful quartet differs from its predecessor in that it is more airy and widely spaced, giving it a pellucid radiance. It is also refreshingly energetic. Malcolm Rayment, writing in the Glasgow Herald on 25 April 1968, described it as a ‘jovial piece…the whole composition suggests that it was written in a happy and carefree frame of mind’.

Though William Wordsworth was often drawn to the traditional forms of symphony and string quartet, he also wrote a significant number of occasional and shorter pieces such as music for plays, radio productions and concert overtures. A fine example of the latter is the Overture Conflict, Op.86 (1968), which was commissioned for the Guildford Festival of 1969 and premiered at the Civic Hall, Guildford on 16 March of that year by the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra under Vernon Handley. Soon after the composer had been asked to write the piece, the invasion of Czechoslovakia took place. Though the event undoubtedly influenced the course of the work, it is not programmatic in any sense and the ‘Conflict’ of the title is more that between the dead weight of static authority and the desire of the human spirit to develop in freedom, than a picture of Prague in August 1968. There are two main ideas – the rising scalic theme in irregular rhythm with which the work begins, and a contrasting theme given out briefly by the trumpet near the beginning and later developed and expanded against a background derived from the opening theme. A bright chord of C major ends the conflict. Malcolm Rayment wrote in the Glasgow Herald that it ‘…has a harmonic tension such as we do not normally associate with this composer – it is an impressive work.’

Symposium, for solo violin, strings, piano, recorded voices and percussion, Op.94 (1972) was commissioned by the Scottish Baroque Ensemble and dedicated to Leonard Friedman, who premièred the work in Edinburgh in March 1973. According to the dictionary, a ‘symposium’ may be a collection of views on one topic, or a meeting of for philosophic discussion, and this definition covers the plan of the work; almost all its material is derived from the five-note phrase played by the cellos (pizzicato) at the beginning and answered by the seven-note phrase in quicker tempo with which the soloist enters. The resulting twelve-note theme is present in part or as a whole almost throughout the work, either in its original direction or reversed or inverted. There are many changes of mood and speed and, towards the end, taped vocal sounds appear under the orchestra. Writing in the Glasgow Herald on 14 April 1974, Malcolm Rayment described Symposium as one of Wordsworth’s ‘…most concentrated works and almost certainly one of his best…The writing for solo violin is both brilliant and rewarding.’ On the same day, R.M., in the Scotsman, described the work as an ‘eloquent and heartfelt peroration…’ going on to observe that the ‘logic and economy of the composer was evident...’

Symphony No. 7 ‘Cosmos’, Op.107 (1980) was premièred by the Scottish National Orchestral conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson on 26 September 1981at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. It was commissioned by the theatre to celebrate the renewal of their sound system. Shortly after this commission, the BBC showed a television programme on Albert Einstein and two quotations from him helped to shape the work and provide the work’s title. Both suggest that Wordsworth’s concept of music or at least of ‘Cosmos’ was not as a medium of ideas but rather as mystical stimulation: ‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; it is the source of all art, and he who cannot experience it is already half-dead’…’What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world.’

The symphony is cast in one closely-argued movement, which divides into sections. There are two main musical themes – the first begins in the bass, moving slowly in fourths and fifths, and the second consists of a contrasting four-note theme in adjacent notes, the whole work evolving, passacaglia-like, in continuous variations of these themes, gradually increasing in volume in a long crescendo, producing a cumulative effect of building up by repetition. The pre-recorded tape (which the composer had already decided would be in the piece when he first began work on it in early 1980) was provided at the first performance by Adrian Shepherd and the strings of Cantilena and played through loud speakers; it consists of two slowly repeated chords for strings, and is heard four times – firstly quietly, before the orchestra enters, picking up on the material; second, as loudly as possible, to link the climax of the first section to the second, this consisting of a slow, extended development and elaboration of the main themes; third, to fade into the quiet coda; and finally, very quietly just before the last bars, where there is just a trace of the two chords of the tape.

Elegy for Frieda, Op.111 (1982) is one of the composer’s most deeply expressive and finely wrought works. Following the recording of his fifth and sixth quartets by the Alberni Quartet in 1981, a tour of Scotland was planned to include a Wordsworth quartet. It was first performed in Kingussie, not far from his home, on 9 November 1982. The initial statement by viola and cello, marked affetuoso, is chromatic but tonal, converging upon F sharp minor. Recurring appearances of this theme are linked by episodes of a livelier nature, even skittish. There is one central climax, fortissimo con forza, from which the calm of the opening gradually returns, closing on a chord of B major. The Elegy represents Wordsworth at his most directly communicative and compassionate. In his brief but poignant programme note for the piece, he wrote, ‘It has been said that music is so subtle and profound a language that it is impossible to translate its meaning into words. There is therefore no need for me to say more about this Elegy than to say that my wife died last June, and that it was written for the Alberni Quartet to play during a tour of Scotland last November. For the rest, let the music speak for me.’

The Symphony No.8 ‘Pax Hominibus’, Op.117 (1986), his last completed work, was commissioned by BBC Scotland and dedicated, poignantly, ‘to Martin Dalby, who persuaded me that life could be worth living again after a heart attack, by arranging for the B.B.C. to commission this piece’. It was premièred by the B.B.C. Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Jerzy Maksymiuk in Stirling on 28 October 1986. Wordsworth’s long-term involvement with the peace movement is reflected in the symphony’s subtitle and the work literally begins peacefully with a gentle passage for two horns, succeeded by a more expressive phrase for strings: these two elements form the basis of the first movement, which has the breadth of a natural symphonist and a well-poised elegance. The second, and final, movement is quicker, a gradual crescendo leading to a quieter, lyrical section. After a brief recurrence of the symphony’s opening bars, the movement is marked to be repeated and then follows the first movement’s principal material. Finally, the work ends with a short and quick coda.

Wordsworth’s last symphony is his most enigmatic. The last movement, in particular, contains some of the quirkiest material he ever penned: a peculiar ‘clucking’ idea, heard at the outset, though clearly descended from other such dislocated, hesitant initial statements as the start of the fifth symphony’s central movement and the opening movement of the sixth string quartet, is very disorientating in its effect; yet it soon generates enormous energy, building to a tremendous climax redolent of Robert Simpson, culminating in a brass cadence as glorious as it is short-lived. The song-like subject that follows sounds like a pastiche of a nineteenth-century bel canto operatic aria, yet there is something infinitely sad about it, entombed within such grotesque surroundings. It is entirely fitting that the composer’s last work should be a symphony, a form in which he excelled and to which he returned most often.

All the previous examples taken from William Wordsworth’s considerable catalogue of works have several aspects in common: they are consummately well-crafted and draw their inspiration from the wellsprings of the mainstream rather than any shallow side-channels. Both in inspiration and content, his music displays a rugged individuality mirroring his physical environment, and an integrity that isolated him from the influence of the latest musical trends. He was, however, a man of his time and if the music demanded it, he would unhesitatingly include quarter tones and electronic tape, for example, in his works. There are no sensational tricks, no compromises to fashion and his is generally a quieter, more contemplative voice than that of his contemporaries. Various influences such as Sibelius, Bartók, Nielsen and, to a lesser extent Bax and Vaughan Williams may be detected fleetingly in some of his writing, but he went his own way and the best of his music, of which there is a significant amount, is passionate, tough, direct and utterly sincere.

Though he was socially diffident, he had no false modesty regarding his compositions and was fully aware of what he perceived to be their lasting value. In a forthright letter to the Music Controller of the BBC in 1957 concerning the decline in the Corporation’s broadcasts of his symphonic works, he wrote, ‘I am quite convinced that I have something to say, and an individual way of saying it which the ordinary music-lover is capable is responding to if he is given sufficient opportunities. I would not go through the labour of creation were I not so convinced.’28

In various articles about him, commentators and journalists are fond of quoting the following lines from his ancestral namesake: ‘Enough if something from our hands have power to live, and act, and serve the future hour.’ Indeed, the words apply aptly enough to the composer Wordsworth, dedicated and serious-minded. Let us hope, especially in this, his centenary year that the ‘future hour’ comes quickly. Until then, the current woeful lack of performances, broadcasts and recordings means listeners are missing out on a highly distinctive voice, refreshingly lacking in self-indulgence and characterised by its inherent truthfulness, stubborn integrity and calculated understatement. Ideally, his eight symphonies, concertos for piano, violin and cello and six string quartets should be available on disc, but if simply the Symphony No.5, Cello Concerto, Violin Concerto, String Quartet Nos. 5 and 6 and Oboe Quartet were obtainable, the best of William Wordsworth would be represented in the catalogues.

This article began with a droll but revealing anecdote from the composer’s friend the Rev. Maclean; perhaps it is fitting to close with a more wistful recollection from the same source:

‘When I heard of his decline in health, I called to see him at the hospital in Kingussie. He sat in his wheelchair with a far-away look in his eye. “I have been listening for the past month to a recording of your 8th Symphony. I have heard it, perhaps, 50 times. I know it better than you do”, I said. A wondering look. No reply, not even “possibly.”’29


© Paul Conway 2008


(The author wishes to thank Jonathan Wordsworth and the staff of the Scottish Music Centre, Glasgow for all their help during his researches for this article)

1 Rev. Campbell M. Maclean, ‘William Wordsworth (1908-88)’, Music Current, No.1, September 1988, p.1

2 Ibid.

3 His mother’s maiden name

4 Phantasy Sonata for violin and piano Op.3 (1933)

5 W. B. Wordsworth, ‘Tovey’s Teaching’, Music & Letters, Vol.22, No.1, p.60

6 As an eloquent letter to the Editor of The Times dated 5 September 1939 makes clear

7 Comment by the composer’s son Jonathan Wordsworth in conversation with the present author

8 At Cheesecombe Farm, near Lyme Regis

9 In a letter dated 21 September 1960 from Harry Croft-Jackson, Chief Assistant Music Programme Organisation, BBC to William Wordsworth. Ref 38/M/HC-J

10 Rev. Campbell M. Maclean, ‘William Wordsworth (1908-88)’, Music Current, No.1, September 1988, p.3

11 According to the programme notes written by John F. Russell for the 1952 Cheltenham Festival performance

12 Letter from Sir John Barbirolli to William Wordsworth dated 1 April 1952

13 The Times, unnamed reviewer, 15 July 1952

14 Mosco Carner, ‘The Eighth Cheltenham Festival’, The Musical Times, Vol.93, No.1315, p.419

15 Michael Kennedy, ‘William Wordsworth and his Contemporaries’, The Listener, June 20 1963 p1053

16 Malcolm Rayment, Glasgow Herald, 5 June 1974

17 William Wordsworth, ‘Symphony No.2’, Stretto 7 (2) 1987, p.28

18 No author, ‘Two British Symphonies’, The Musical Times 94 (1953) p.82

19 C. G-F, ‘London Philharmonic Orchestra’, Musical Opinion 76 (1953) p.201

20 Colin Mason, ‘New Chamber Music’, The Musical Times 98 (1957) p.431

21 From Our Music Critic, ‘Another New Symphony’, The Times 12 June 1953 p.2

22 Mitchell, Donald, Musical Times 95 (1954) p.145

23 John Dodds, ‘William Wordsworth: A 75th Birthday Tribute’, BMS Journal, Vol.5, p.76

24 Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to William Wordsworth dated 28 June 1956

25 Michael Kennedy, The Musical Times 98 (1957) p.444

26 Michael Kennedy, ‘William Wordsworth and his Contemporaries’, The Listener 20 June 1963 p.1053

27 Conrad Wilson, The Scotsman, 24 November 1963

28 Letter from William Wordsworth to R. J. F. Howgill, Controller, Music, B.B.C. dated 4 December 1957

29 Rev. Campbell M. Maclean, ‘William Wordsworth (1908-88)’, Music Current, No.1, September 1988, p.3


 


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