Two Centuries of British Symphonism

50 Hugh Ottaway, 'Cyril Scott', in: MO 73/867 (1949), p. 143: 'As an innovator Cyril Scott lacks the freshness and subtlety of Debussy; his harmonic 'sensation' is often rather lavish, even crude, by comparison and tends to stifle his ...

Two Centuries of British Symphonism

Die britische Sinfonik ist erst in jüngster Zeit ins allgemeine Interesse gerückt. Ein Überblick über die sinfonische Entwicklung im Vereinigten Königreich seit den Anfängen im 18. Jahrhundert bis ins 20. Jahrhundert blieb aber bis heute ein Desideratum. Der hier vorgelegte Überblick zeigt, wie sich die Identität einer britischen Sinfonik über mehr als hundert Jahre entwickelte, geprägt durch Einflüsse vom europäischen Kontinent und von dem Bedürfnis, eigene Wege zu finden. Gegen Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts nahm das sinfonische Schaffen in Großbritannien stark zu, brachte jedoch erst mit Edward Elgar einen prominenten Vertreter von internationalem Rang hervor. Ein besonderer Schwerpunkt dieser Publikation liegt auf jenen Werken, die zu einem gewissen Grade von anderen überschattet wurden, unveröffentlicht oder unaufgeführt blieben. Das Ergebnis ist das Bild einer vielgestaltigen sinfonischen Landschaft Großbritanniens, das die ästhetischen Perspektiven der einzelnen Komponisten wie auch ihre soziokulturellen Kontexte erhellt. Ein umfangreiches Verzeichnis aller bekannten Werke und eine ausführliche Bibliographie laden zu weiterer Erkundung des Sujets ein. Only in relatively recent times has any real attention been given to British symphonies. So a comprehensive survey, showing what exists and how the situation in the United Kingdom developed, from the beginnings in the 18th century until well into the 20th century, is long overdue. The preliminary survey presented here shows how a British symphonic identity gradually took shape over more than a century, through influences from abroad and, at home, enterprising attempts to find new ways of expression. By the end of the 19th century, British symphonists had produced an impressive body of work, yet only with the appearance of Elgar’s two symphonies in the following decade did this flourishing school find a champion of international renown. In this publication, light is shone on those works that have to some extent been overshadowed, as well as on those that have remained unpublished or unperformed. The result is a multi-faceted panorama of British symphonism, offering many insights into the composers’ thinking and their socio-cultural contexts. A comprehensive catalogue of all known works and an extensive bibliography invite readers to delve further into the subject.

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