This really is a magnum opus. It is planned to be a
complete chronological listing of all works (with or without an Opus
number) including the year of composition (and date of completion where
known), dedicated, commissioning/funding sources, and performance information
such as duration, instrumentation. It also lists the musical history
(first performances, first broadcast etc. giving the details of performers),
manuscript location where known, first or significant recordings and
details of film/incidental music for plays TV etc. Broadly it covers
composers born between 1893 and 1923.
The amount of data provided in these three volumes
is staggering and it is particularly impressive because so much information
is hard to come by. Even tracing the publisher of a piece can be difficult
(especially where a composer has used multiple publishers; or where
publishers have been amalgamated, gone out of business etc). Similarly
it can be very difficult to check recording information (relatively
easy for large major work – more difficult for smaller works,’ popular’
pieces, and arrangements).
A title index at the end of each volume makes the book
much easier to use than having to use just the chronological listing.
Another fascinating aspect is the tabulations of composer productivity
(expressed as TCD ie. Total Compositional Duration in minutes), also
broken down by age spans and type of music. It was fascinating to learn
that Britten is by far the most productive of the British Composers
listed being not far behind Beethoven in this regard.
I did not come across any obvious inaccuracies when
looking through this absorbing catalogue but came across all sorts of
fascinating information which is not found in the standard biographies
or in Grove. Inevitably one feels frustrated when a composer you expect
to be in the catalogue is not there – but this is usually because the
date of birth is outside the stated limits, the composer is of "light"
rather than serious music or perhaps because he is relatively obscure.
The Catalogue is truly welcome and will be a much used
reference book which should be included in every serious musical library.
Rob barnett has also inspected this Dictionary
The last 12 months have been a year of dictionaries with
the rolling climax coming in the form of Macmillan's New Grove 2.
Grove 2 is sui generis; not without blemish but
unequivocally the most estimable multi-volume dictionary of music in
the English language. The towering ambition of the Grove editorial team
has lured it into coverage of world music, ethnic music and popular
genres. The blurred focus so imparted hardly matters but Grove is now
far more diffuse and arbitrary (especially where it strides out into
new territory) than previously. I still lament the exclusion of peripheral
British composers such as Roger Sacheverell Coke, Walter Thomas Gaze
Cooper and Stanley Wilson. It is however the most universal and
ambitious of available dictionaries. Its coverage, span and depth is
matchless in a single work.
The next edition of the multi-volume German Musik
in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG) should be out by 2005 and it remains
to be seen how well that will stack up. It will however be in German.
Striking at a different level comes the latest edition
of Baker's 'Biographical Dictionary of Composers and Musicians'. I have
not seen the book yet but have read Martin Anderson's review in International
Record Review. Baker's coverage is exclusively biographical. For people
wanting to run to ground solid information on the lives of composers
and musicians you could not do better. It is also somewhat less expensive
than Grove though still a major bite out of your bank account.
The present dictionary is in the nature of a collection
of catalogues where the works are in chronological sequence. Its coverage
is quite specific. Fifty-four composers are treated in meaty depth.
The full list of names is appended below. Composers selected are Brits
(or adopted Brits) born between 1891 and 1923. The format of the book
is, as Poulton indicates in his introduction, modelled on Kenneth Thompson's
'A Dictionary of Twentieth Century Composers 1911-1971' (Faber).
The conventionally 'great' names covered are Britten,
Tippett and Walton. The greatest value of this work is its systematic
exposure of the heritage of the still largely eclipsed Cheltenham generation
- not to suggest that everyone here can be viewed as a 'Cheltenham composer'
though I would be surprised if any of the people listed had not had
some Cheltenham exposure. Female composers include Ruth Gipps, Phyllis
Tate, Grace Williams, Rainier, Maconchy and Lutyens. Those of communist
leanings: Alan Bush, Christian Darnton and Benjamin Frankel. Ultra-peripheral
names accommodated include ApIvor, Darnton, Gipps, Leigh, Stanley Bate,
Chagrin, Parrott, Wynne and Wishart. From various aspects of the avant-garde
come Lutyens, Wynne, Hamilton, Searle, Gerhard and Rainier. Major symphonists
drawn in are Rubbra, Arnell, Frankel, Fricker, Daniel Jones, Lloyd,
Malcolm Arnold, William Alwyn, Robert Simpson and William Wordsworth.
Film music composers: Arnold, Alwyn, Frankel, Rawsthorne, Lutyens, Bliss,
Benjamin and Addison. Emigres: Rainier, Seiber, Panufnik, Gerhard, Benjamin
and Banks. From the older lyrical tradition come Howells, Finzi, Goossens,
Hadley, Bliss and Benjamin. We can all play chase the omission but for
me the most regrettable absences are Inglis Gundry and John Veale.
The work that has gone into this dictionary is breath-taking
and while Alan Poulton acknowledges his indebtedness to his own published
works (e.g. Bravura's Alan Bush and Rawsthorne books) and those of others
(all listed at the front of each volume) this must have been a Herculean
enterprise. That it has been achieved with such excellence of outcome
is a credit to Poulton and the courageous Greenwood.
Typos are inevitable but they are far far fewer than
you might fear. I list a few at the end of this review for correction
on the MS and in later editions.
Browsing through the 1700 pages is not the arid experience
you might fear. Poulton drops in notes here and there and little details
suddenly strike you: things you knew previously; things you discover
for the first time. I had not recalled that Walton had dedicated Belshazzar's
Feast to Lord Berners. Searle's Three Ages includes a quote
(brief) from John Ireland's These Things Shall Be. Goossens conducted
the US premiere of the Moeran symphony in Cincinnati. Notes on the Albany
commissions cross-reference George Lloyd's Symphonies 11 and 12 with
Arnold 8 and the Rubbra's Sinfonietta. There is humour too -
note the name of one of the two pianists in the premiere of Rawsthorne's
The Creel was Helen Pyke to which Poulton attaches an exclamation
It is good to see that film, theatre and radio music
are shown alongside concert works. It helps to break long tracts of
lists that these segments are shown separately. Premiere recordings
are identified but the date for the recordings is not given or not consistently.
I had thought at one stage that discographies were intended but on reflection
if this had been applied rigorously Poulton's work would have run to
six or eight volumes (Britten, Walton and Tippett are amongst the composer
roster) and the price to £500 or so. It was a wise decision to
omit discographies. Bibliographies are included and they are selective.
It is a pleasure to see that the British Music Society's publications
are widely listed and that the illustrious work of writers like Michael
Barlow, Paul Conway, Anthony Hodges and Lewis Foreman are recognised.
The three volumes are splendidly bound in sturdy slatey
black livery with red insets and fold lettering for front and spine.
There is no slip case (just as well as it would be an encumbrance in
a busy library). To English eyes the 'Catalog' reference jars momentarily
but this is an irrelevance given the intrinsic strengths of the books.
The paper is an admirable matte-white though more page-to-page opacity
would have helped. The font is easy on the eye: not too large; not too
small - a subset of the Times-Roman family by the look of it. There
are no dustwrappers, as is the practice of Greenwood.
In these days of DVD encyclopaedias and web access one
in some ways laments the inflexible print medium. Web access and CDs
would be the ideal allowing quick searching and rendering fixed indices
irrelevant. If I had to locate references to performances by Yfrah Neaman
would have to wade through each volume page by page. Even finding work
titles across the composer list would entail checking from volume to
volume; index to index. I certainly wish I had this work in Word format
on my PC where it would assist a busy editor in his day to day work.
Summarising: no self-respecting music library, academic
institution or serious music broadcaster can do without this dictionary.
Enthusiasts who are able to and are prepared to shell out £210.00
will find these three volumes endlessly rewarding. Concert organisers,
record companies, chamber ensembles, music administrators, journalists,
broadcasters, researchers and music entrepreneurs will find them invaluable
in weighing up revivals and programme planning.
This major book facilitates and decisively paves the
way for the slowly rolling renaissance of British music from the period
DETAILS OF CONTENTS OF THREE VOLUMES
Foreword by Vernon Handley
Composer Productivity - an Analytical Approach
1. John Addison (1920-1998)
2. William Alwyn (1905-1985)
3. Denis ApIvor (1916-)
4. Richard Arnell (1917-)
5. Malcolm Arnold (1921-)
6. Don Banks (1923-1980)
7. Stanley Bate (1911-1953)
8. Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960)
9. Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)
10. Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)
11. Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
12. Alan Bush (1900-1995)
13. Geoffrey Bush (1920-1998)
14. Francis Chagrin (1905-1972)
15. Arnold Cooke (1906-)
Volume 2 Composer Catalogues:-
16. Christian Darnton (1905-1981)
17. Howard Ferguson (1908-)
18. Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)
19. Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973)
20. Peter Racine Fricker (1920-1990)
21. John Gardner (1917-)
22. Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)
23. Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)
24. Eugene Goossens (1893-1962)
25. Patrick Hadley (1899-1973)
26. Iain Hamilton (1922-)
27. Herbert Howells (1892-1983
28. Gordon Jacob (1895-1984)
29. Daniel Jones (1912-1993)
30. Constant Lambert (1905-1951)
31. Walter Leigh (1905-1942)
32. George Lloyd (1913-1998)
33. Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983)
Volume 3 Composer Catalogues:-
34. Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)
35. E.J.Moeran (1894-1950)
36. Herbert Murrill (1909-1952)
37. Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)
38. Ian Parrott (1916-)
39. Priaulx Rainier (1903-1986)
40. Alan Rawsthorne (1905-1971)
41. Franz Reizenstein (1911-1968)
42. Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
43. Humphrey Searle (1915-1982)
44. Matyas Seiber (1905-1960)
45. Bernard Stevens (1916-1983)
45. Robert Simpson (1921-1998)
47. Phyllis Tate (1911-1987)
48. Michael Tippett (1905-1998)
49. William Walton (1902-1983)
50. Peter Warlock (1894-1930)
51. Grace Williams (1905-1977)
52. Peter Wishart (1921-1984)
53. William Wordsworth (1908-1988)
54. David Wynne (1900-1983)
TYPOGRAPHICAL ETC ERRORS (very few)
p296 Burglund for Berglund
p1408 Nielson should be Nielsen
p1455 Richard Cockin should be Richard Cock
p1701 Guilford instead of Guildford.
P1670 Coeurs Désolés is correct in the text but wrong
in the index.
DETAILS from Alan POULTON's promotional material
A DICTIONARY-CATALOG OF MODERN BRITISH COMPOSERS
- Who were the soloists in the first British performance of Humphrey
Searle's opera Hamlet Op. 84?
- What instruments are required to perform the Tankas of the Four
Seasons by Alan Rawsthorne?
- Who wrote the words for Gordon Jacob's choral work News from Newtown?
- Who are the dedicatees of Iain Hamilton's Sonata Notturna for horn
and piano, and when did they give the work's first broadcast performance?
- In which year was Herbert Howell's Procession and Fugue for orchestra
- Who conducted the soundtrack to the Ealing film The Magnet (1952)
and who wrote the music?
- Who made the first recording of the Suite for flute, violin and
harp (1914) of Eugene Goossens?
- Where and when did the first American performance of Britten's
The Burning Fiery Furnace take place?
- In which theatre was Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet staged, for
which production Roberto Gerhard wrote the music in 1947, and who
was the producer?
- In which year was the score to Rubbra's String Quartet No. 1 published,
and who was the publisher?
- Who commissioned Lennox Berkeley's Sonata for flute and piano Op.
97 and for which performer?
- What is the duration of Panufnik's Reflections for piano?
1. Victor Braun, Ann Howells, David Kelly, Patricia Johnson.
2. Oboe, clarinet, bassoon, violin, cello.
3. Christopher Hassall.
4. Barry Tuckwell and Margaret Kitchin - 30 November 1965.
6. Ernest Irving and William Alwyn.
7. Charles Stainer (Fl.), Charles Woodhouse (Vn.) and Marie Goossens
(Hp.) VOCALION 05104/5.
8. New York, 25 June 1967 (Caramoor Festival).
9. Memorial Theatre, Strafford - Peter Brook.
10. 1947 - Lengnick.
11. The Edinburgh Festival for James Galway.
12. 12 minutes.
These and the answers to many thousands of other questions are now available
in one major study from Greenwood Press, Conn., USA.
Alan Poulton's Dictionary-Catalog brings together, for the first time,
a comprehensive listing in chronological sequence of the complete output
of over fifty British composers, including music for film, incidental
music for stage, radio and television, as well as arrangements.
The content of each volume is planned as follows:
* Complete chronological catalogue for each composer
* commissioning source,
* performance information (duration, instrumentation),
* music history (first concert, first broadcast, first British, European
or American performance as pertinent and available, including performing
* publication details;
* first and subsequent significant recordings;
* MS location where known.
* Bibliography (selective).
* Title Index of concert music organised in separate indices for each
The following is a typical example of two entries from the ApIvor catalogue:
Six Songs of Federico Garcia Lorca for high voice and piano Op. 8
1. La Gitarra (The Guitar)
2 La niña del bello rostro (The girl with the beautiful face)
3 Cancion de jinete (The rider's song)
4. Pueblo (Village)
5. Virgen con marinaque (Virgin in a crinoline)
6. Raiz amarga (The bitter root)
f.p. Frederick Fuller (Bar.)/Daniel Kelly (Pno.) - Wigmore Hall, London,
f broad.p. Trefor Jones (Ten.)/Clifton Helliwell (Pno.), 23 January
Pub: Berben Milano 1972 (* version for voice and guitar)
Violin Sonata Op. 9 (1946 rev. 1951-2)
Dur. 17' f p.
Antonio Brosa (Vn.)/Kyla Greenbaum (Pno.) - Wigmore Hall, London, 1947
f conc.p. (rev. version) Leonard Dight (Vn.)/Eiluned Davies (Pno.) -
Swansea Music Club, 23 February 1952
f. broad.p. (rev. version) Leonard Dight (Vn.)/Eiluned Davies (Pno.)
- BBC Wales, 2 May 1957
The Dictionary-Catalog will therefore be of particular interest to the
* Researchers and biographers of individual British composers.
* Discographers studying the recording history of twentieth century
* Performers, e.g. soloists, chamber ensembles, choirs and orchestras
for concert/repertoire planning.
* Libraries and academic staff for teaching budgets/acquisition planning.
* Musical historians researching a particular performing artist, ensemble
* Researchers with a specialist interest in twentieth century performing
arts, particularly in the influence of music in the world or films,
stage performances, and radio and television productions.
Not only are the major composers featured such as Bliss, Britten, Walton,
Tippett and Berkeley, but others, less well-known, who have not hitherto
been analysed in such detail, e.g. Francis Chagrin, Matyas Seiber, Bernard
Stevens, Denis ApIvor and Humphrey Searle.
Access to much of this information has been given with the complete
cooperation of many of the composers, their families and publishers,
as well as from the archives of the BBC, British Library, British Film
Institute and the personal recollections of hundreds of performing artists
throughout the world.
The Dictionary-Catalog (in 3 volumes) covers those composers born between
the years 1891 and 1923 and this provides a unique historical perspective
of musical performances which have taken place during the ninety years
from c.1910 to 2000.