24 May 2010

This is the week that...

... Elizabeth Harwood was born (27th May 1938)

English Opera Group production of Acis and Galatea at
the Aldeburgh Festival, 1966. Elizabeth as Galatea (Ref: EH/7/1/1)

                          Elizabeth Harwood, 1964 (Ref: EH/7/2/1)                     Elizabeth Harwood (Ref: EH/7/2/1)

Elizabeth Harwood was born on 27 May 1938, and studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music between 1956 and 1960. Her first opera appearance away from College was for the Buxton Opera Group in 1957 as Michaela in Passion Flower, an adaptation of Carmen.

 She enjoyed over two decades as an operatic singer, working with conductors such as Colin Davis and Herbert von Karajan. It was under von Karajan that she became the first English soprano to perform at the Salzburg Festival in The Marriage of Figaro, a role which she would reprise in many subsequent festivals. Elizabeth's last operatic performance was for The Buxton Festival in La Colombe, 1983.   

Elizabeth married Julian A.C. Royle in 1966 and they had one son, Nicholas. The family lived at Fryerning, Ingatestone, Essex, where a plaque is dedicated to Elizabeth Harwood in the parish church following her death on June 22 1990.

18 May 2010

Tuesday Titbit

Frank Wright

FW/3/8 Copy of an article from the 'British Mouthpiece' regarding Frank Wright
conducting the Massed Bands of the Boys' Brigade at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965.

Frank Wright, MBE was very influential in the Brass Band Movement. Wright was born in Australia and was originally a noted Cornet player, after becoming the Australian Cornet Champion, he became a conductor and adjudicator of both the Australian Championships in 1932 and New Zealand in 1933.He came to England in 1934, officiating at the Crystal Palace Championship and conducted the St Hilda’s professional band.

He was appointed as Music Director to London County Council’s Parks Department in 1935 and later in 1945 he was appointed Professor of Brass and Military Band Scoring at the Guildhall School of Music and also became an examiner for the GSM diploma in Brand Band Conducting. Wright continued to officiate at many competitions including the National Brass Band Championships, the Kerkrade World Music Festival (now the World Music Festival) and also conducted at gala performances.

The above picture is of the Brass Band newspaper the ‘British Mouthpiece’, which has published a photograph and a small article about Frank Wright conducting the Massed Bands of the Boys' Brigade concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965. The Newspaper article is a part of the Frank Wright collection at the RNCM archive.

17 May 2010

This is the week that...

... Nina Grieg celebrates the Russian Revolution (17th May 1917)

(Ref: AB/861)

Nina Grieg was a Danish-Norwegian lyric soprano. She was the first cousin of composer Edvard Grieg and they married 11th June, 1867 in Copenhagen. The couple often performed concerts together in Europe and Edvard considered her the best performer of his songs. After the death of her husband in 1907, she moved to Denmark where she died on 9 December 1935.

Anna Brodsky was the wife of the Russian violinist Adolph Brodsky . The daughter of a Russian nobleman who owned estates in southern Russia, Anna married at Sevastopol in 1882, and accompanied her husband to the United States in 1891, eventually settling with him in Manchester, England.

In this letter, dated 17th May 1917, Nina rejoices with Anna at the Russian Revolution and wishes that Edvard were alive to see it, but is glad he does not see all the suffering. She looks forward to peace and a happy life in art and science, and declares “music must be international.”

11 May 2010

Tuesday Titbit

Philip Newman

Telegram to Philip Newman from Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians,
27 July 1956 (ref PN/14) 

Philip Newman was a renowned violinist who was born in Manchester in 1904. He was a pupil of the Royal Manchester College of Music and later became a noted soloist and teacher to Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, a patron of the arts and an accomplished violinist.

The above telegram is from Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, sent to Philip Newman on 27th July 1956. Newman amongst other noted musicians such as Casals, Stravinsky and Schweitzer, were intimates of Queen Elisabeth and were all involved in the founding of the Symphonicum Europaea in 1964. Queen Elisabeth attended most of Newman’s concerts and gifted him a gold mounted bow by François Tourte, one of the worlds finest bow makers.

10 May 2010

This is the week that...

... Philip Newman was born (12th May 1904)

      Pearl and Philip Newman as children (Ref: PN/200)                                                       Philip Newman as a child (Ref: PN/201)

Philip Newman as a young man (Ref: PN/213)

Philip Newman was born in Manchester on May 12 1904, the son of Harris Newman, cantor of Manchester's Great Synagogue. Newman became a pupil of Adolph Brodsky at the Royal Manchester College of Music, entering the College in 1917 aged 13 and leaving in 1920 without taking a diploma.

In 1924 Brodsky advised Newman to attend the Brussels Conservatoire to study with Albert Zimmel, Ysaÿe's first assistant. After just one year, he won the "Premier Prix de Violon" with maximum marks and distinction, playing the very difficult Violin Concerto in F sharp minor Op. 23 by H. W. Ernst. During his time in Brussels he also studied with the violinists Henri van Hecke and Cesar Thomson.

Newman spent the years 1928 to 1932 in Berlin studying with Willy Hess who was by then Germany's foremost violinist, and had been a pupil of the great Joseph Joachim. Here he learned a style different to that of the Belgian school of which he was by now a fine exponent.

Newman's first major recital took place in his hometown of Manchester in the mid 1920s, for which his father had hired the Free Trade Hall. However his first big concert was in Ostend where he performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto. For some unaccountable reason his official British debut with orchestra did not take place until 1935, again in the Manchester Free Trade Hall. In 1937 Philip Newman began his long service as a judge of the Concours Musical International Reine Elizabeth which had replaced the Ysaÿe Violin Competition. For many years Newman was also a member of the panel of judges at the Tchaikovsky Violin Competition in Moscow where he represented the British Council.

Also in 1937 Philip Newman commenced his long association with Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians, becoming her personal professor of the violin. The Queen had for many years devoted much of her time to the violin and had performed privately with many distinguished musicians, she herself was a great patron of the arts and an accomplished violinist.

In 1942 Newman took refuge in Portugal and finally arrived in Lisbon where he became the first non-national Professor of the violin at the National Academy of Music. During his long stay in that city he organised and promoted concerts for charity including many for the International Red Cross.

In 1950 he left Portugal to tour England, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany, receiving excellent reviews from both critics and fellow musicians.

On his return to Europe, he joined his old friend Casals to play at the opening of the Prades Festival. The Festival of Pollensa, which Newman founded in 1962, became the major activity of his remaining years. A galaxy of artists appeared with him during the September Festival events.

Newman's last concert took place on 4th September 1966 at the Festival and the last piece of music he ever played was at the request of a journalist the same evening. It was the Recitative and Scherzo Caprice by Kreisler. A tour of the Soviet Union was planned but Newman died of a heart attack in his hotel room in Majorca on 23 November 1966, one year to the day after his beloved friend Queen Elisabeth. Ironically, he was that very evening to have taken part in a television broadcast to mark the anniversary of her death.

Throughout his career Newman received many honours and awards. In Belgium, he was an Officer of the Order of the Crown. Portugal awarded him its highest honour, Knight Commander of St. James of the Sword, and for his work during the war years the Order of St. John together with the Order of Christ. He was also awarded the Ysaÿe and the Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians medals and later decorated with the Order of Merit and the Order of Leopold. Yet another distinction was a commissioned oil painting which now hangs in the National Gallery, Lisbon. A bust of Newman by his friend Dr. Alfonso Jaume, made in 1966 shortly after his death, now stands at the entrance to the Festival cloisters in Majorca. There is also a plaster cast of his hand together with a death mask on exhibition at the Festival entrance and a street near by has been named after him. The sign reads ‘Philip Newman adopted son.’