Secretary: Andrew P. Knowles – 30, Florida Avenue, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambs. PE29 1PY

Telephone 01480 456931 : e-mail

(approx 1946) ©The Rawsthorne Trust



exists to promote the work of the composer in the following ways:-

sound recordings
the establishment of archives of

sound recordings
other material relevant to the composer

the publication of written material
sponsorship of performances and recordings
provision of educational and research facilities
assist students of the composer's life and works

THE FRIENDS publishes a journal - The Creel - in the Autumn of each year. . This is distributed free of charge - please contact the Secretary (details above) if you would like to be put on the mailing list. The Creel contains a mixture of learned articles, biographical pieces from those who knew the composer, archive details, Rawsthorne's own writings and anything which widens knowledge of the composer. Occasional news bulletins are sent out between issues.

THE FRIENDS fosters exchanges between its members, sharing materials, information and reminiscences.

THE FRIENDS provides access to materials for use by students pursuing a study of Rawsthorne and his music by means of its access to the archive of manuscripts, recorded performances and material held by members of the Society.

THE FRIENDS in conjunction with the Rawsthorne Trust, has in recent times been instrumental in securing commercial recordings, has sponsored recitals and commissioned a biography of the composer.

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Rawsthorne on Record: A Centenary Review of Sixty Eight Years of Recording History by John Belcher

Published Works

The Music of Rawsthorne by John M Belcher
Reinstating Rawsthorne: a short account of the Alan Rawsthorne Society and the Rawsthorne Trust 1985-1998 John Belcher

Festina Lente
Alan Rawsthorne and the Macnaghten Concerts
The Longest Walk on Earth by Alan Rawsthorne
Lambert and Rawsthorne by David Heyes
Rawsthorne's Finest Achievement? by John McCabe
A Few Random Memories of Alan by Alan Frank
Some Recollections of Alan Rawsthorne by Thomas Pitfield
The Pre-war Years by Gordon Green
Rawsthorne's Recorder Suite A mystery solved by John Turner
Alan Rawsthorne's Film Music in Context by John M Belcher
Alan Rawsthorne by John Huntley From Music Parade Volume 2 No2 circa 1950
Rawsthorne in the Pages of Music Survey - 1947 -1953

Recent Recordings (click for review)

Classical music on the web


This talented composer was born on 2nd May 1905 in Haslingden, Lancashire. He reached his early twenties before deciding to take up music as his chosen career. First he undertook the study of dentistry. Of this Rawsthorne was to say "I gave that up, thank God, before getting near anyone's mouth": his friend Constant Lambert also commented, in characteristic style, "Mr Rawsthorne assures me that he has given up the practice of dentistry, even as a hobby." Having contrived not to pass any examinations in dentistry he went on to study architecture. By applying the same examination technique he paved the way for his entrance to The Royal Manchester College of Music to study the piano, 'cello and composition. On leaving college in 1930 he continued his studies abroad, notably with Egon Petri. From 1932-1934 he taught at Dartington Hall and was composer in residence for the School of Dance and Mime.

He gained his first notable success at the London Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music in 1938 with a performance of his Theme and Variations for Two Violins. A further success was registered at the Warsaw Festival of the same organization in 1939 with his Symphonic Studies, a first and highly accomplished orchestral score, which was to win an established place in the orchestral repertoire.

Following the war, in which he served in the Army, he devoted himself to composition and between then and his death in 1971, though not prolific, he was to produce a number of substantial works in most of the established forms, many of these to commissions, including a very distinctive contribution to the genre of music for films.

He demonstrated his own and very distinctive voice from the very earliest of his published compositions. His works are marked by clarity of expression and form, craftsmanship and conciseness. His personality shows through in a degree of understatement, refusal to compromise or follow fashion and, where fitting, dry wit.

His is a voice now too infrequently heard in the concert hall, on record or radio. The time is ripe for making it audible once again and to this the Society is dedicated.

Alan Rawsthorne died in Cambridge on July 24th, 1971.

"The road to music has many different paths. As far as British music is concerned, Rawsthorne stands in the direct line of Elgar, Walton, Constant Lambert and Tippett. There is no doubt that his influence on later composers will prove immense."

Francis Routh in "Contemporary British Music" published by Macdonald 1972.

These pages are maintained by Dr Len Mullenger. Mail me.

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last update November 2016