elty. His aversion to the obvious becomes, at times, a positive obsession." Edwin Evans, however, discovers an
even more important characteristic in Bax's music. "There is one quality
which Bax possesses in abundance and
which in our world of atonality and jazz
is so rare that its possession is itself
romantic. It is the musical equivalent
of the layrical impulse in poetry, the attribute which causes utterance to take
spontaneously beautiful forms, irrespective of all else. . . . His thoughts may
not be unusual, but even in the most debatable of them, there lurks always this
element of lyrical beauty, to the rich
vein of which is due the fluency and
abundance which has at times been
ascribed to technical facility. While so
many modern musicians are racking
themselves with constructive energy, this
one oozes music through his pores because there is so much of it within him
that he can scarcely contain it." Arnold Bax is often criticized because
his music, at certain moments, acquires
a sombre frigidity, the chill and grayness
of winter rather than the penetrating
warmth of summer. But such a criticism is superficial, as Erik Blom has
pointed out. "That Arnold Bax deliberately seeks the more sombre or even
the terrible aspects of nature, may be
seen from the piano piece Winter
Waters, which bears the subtitle Tragic Landscafe. This work, with its relentless ostinato theme, surrounded by
mournful melodies and harsh, almost
shrieking harmonies, has a real freezing
effect, yet it is a picture full of beauty.""The music of Arnold Bax"--writes John F. Porte, in summary--"is not the
kind that makes a direct appeal at first
hearing. Even his enthusiastic admirers
will tell you this, with the precautionary
intimation that when understanding
comes, enduring affection is the certain
result. . . . Bax's music has a certain poetical beauty and refinement that is deep-
rooted, but rather shy and elusive. . . .
One aspect of the music of Bax is particularly appealing, and that is its freedom from outward display. It is certainly complex in structure and rhythm,
but it is at least free from the glittering
superficialities that allow some music to
be mistaken for a time as important."Principal works by Arnold Bax:
About Arnold Bax:Chesterian n.s. 5:136February 1920; Musical Courier 88:6January 10, 1924; Musical Opinion 43:812May 1926; Musical
Times 71:217March 1, 1930.Important recordings of music by Arnold Bax:
|ORCHESTRA: Five symphonies; Festival
Overture; Four Pieces; Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra; Tintagel; Summer Music; Mediterranean; Happy
Forest; Overture to a Picaresque Comedy; The Tale the Pine Trees Knew.|
|CHAMBER MUSIC: Trio; Sonata for Violin
and Piano; Quintet; String Quartet; Quintet
for Strings; and Harp; Quartet for Piano
and Strings; Quintet for Oboe and Strings; Sonata for Violin and Piano.|
|BALLETS: Between Dusk and Dawn; The
Frog-Skin; Truth About Russian Dancers.|
Songs, pieces for piano, etc.
|VICTOR: Tintagel (Goossens) ; Mediterranean.|
| NATIONAL GRAMOPHONE SOCIETY: Quartet
in G-Major; Sonata for Viola and Harp; Moy Mell; Oboe Quintet; Sonata for Two
|HIS MASTER'S VOICE: Mater Ora Filium.|
Conrad Beck 1901-
CONRAD BECK, one of the more
gifted of the younger Swiss composers, was born in Schaffhausen on June 16, 1901. His earliest musical
studies were pursued under the private
instruction of Volkmar Andreae, and
then at the Conservatory of Zurich.
Upon graduation, he travelled to Berlin,
finally settling in Paris where he studied
under Arthur Honegger, who has influenced his artistic career enormously.
Beck has since been living mostly in Paris, and during the past five years--
with a series of interesting compositions
for orchestra and chamber groups--has
proved himself to be a composer with
an incisive, almost brusque, speech, a
powerful style, and an enormously fresh
" Conrad Beck, altho a Swiss by birth
and educated partly in Switzerland and
partly in Paris, really belongs to the
German school by virtue of his style and
technique," writes Machabey. "His music does not seem original at first sight,
because he aims at inner perfection
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Composers of Today:A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations.
Contributors: David Ewen - Editor, David Ewen - Compiler.
Publisher: H. W. Wilson.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1934.
Page number: 16.
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