Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
lish music, Henry Walford Davies was honored with knighthood.He lives at the present time in Windsor, dividing his time between the playing of the organ and composition. His character is such that he is often referred to as the "Welsh St. Francis." A man of the utmost simplicity and unpretentiousness, of deep religious fervor, of human goodness, Davies inspires affection in whomever he comes into contact with. More than one writer has spoken of him as the "best-loved musician in England."Principal works by Sir Walford Davies:
ORCHESTRA : Festal Overture; Symphony in G; Suite in C (after Wordsworth); Conversations (for piano and orchestra); Memorial Suite.
CHORAL : The Temple; Everyman; Lift Up Your Hearts; Ode On Time; Song of St. Francis; Men and Angels; High Heaven's King.
CHURCH: Evening Service in C; Festal Te Deum and Jubilate in G; Evening Service; anthems, hymns, psalms, etc.
CHAMBER Music: Sonata in E-Minor (for piano and violin); Sonata in D-Minor (for piano and violin) ; Suite, Peter Pan.

About Sir Walford Davies:

Music and Youth 11:58August 1931; Musical Opinion 43:457March 1920; Sackbut 5:46 1924.


Claude Debussy 1862-1918

"His world may have been small, but in it he was a great man--and sometimes he saw beyond."--ERNEST WALKER

NO composer of our time has exerted so enormous an influence not only upon the music of his own country but also upon the entire field of modern music as Claude Debussy.

Claude Achille Debussy, father of Impressionism in music, was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, on the twenty- second of August, 1862. His father--a humble shopkeeper who was fond of music--was too poor to give his son any full education, and so Claude's schooling was elementary and incomplete. The only music he heard as a boy was the open-air concerts in the Luxembourg and the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. His

father had visions of making the boy a sailor. But Claude revealed from the first a very sensitive artistic soul: he loved music--such as he was able to hear--devotedly; he loved to decorate his room with little ornaments and pictures; he loved collecting brightly- colored butterflies; he even showed a distinct aptitude and affection for painting. It was obvious that art, and not the sea, would claim him.

In his ninth year he began the study of the piano. One day, he attracted the attention of Mme. Mauté de Fleurville, a pupil of Chopin, who was so pleased with the boy's touch and grace that she decided to teach him gratuitously. So excellent was her teaching and so apt was her pupil that, in a few months, she was able to place him for the entrance examinations at the Conservatory in Paris, and he passed them with very little difficulty. His path now definitely led to music.

He was an amazingly apt pupil, winning all the available medals. But even as a student he revealed a predilection for experimentation in music. He would amaze pupils and teachers alike by improvising on the piano curious melodies and harmonies, which were far out of the ken of their harmony textbooks. "Of course, it's all utterly unorthodox," confessed Emile Durand, Debussy's instructor in composition, "but still it is very ingenious!"

His studies at the Conservatory were momentarily interrupted by an enviable opportunity to travel which presented itself at this time. Recommended by the Conservatory, Debussy was offered a position as pianist of a trio to be employed by a rich society lady. Mme. Nadeja Filaretovna le Meck. Together with their patron, this trio travelled to Florence, Vienna, Venice and Moscow-- giving Debussy his first glimpse of the world. Upon his return from his travels, Debussy resumed studies at the Conservatory.

His reputation in the Conservatory as a revolutionary spirit developed as Debussy grew older. One day, in 1884, when the instructor, Delibes, was absent from harmony class, Debussy elected himself to give his fellow students a lesson in harmony such as their instruc

____________________
Debussy: Dȧ-bū-sē'

-56-

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