|ORCHEESTRA: Paradise Rondel; Piano Concerto; Procession; Pastoral Rhapsody; Elegy (for strings).|
|CHAMBER MUSIC: Rhapsodic Quintet; Lady Audrey's Suite; Fantasy Quartet; Piano Quartet.|
|CHORAL: Sine Nomine.|
|Pieces for piano, organ, etc.|
About Herbert Howells:
Musical Times 61:87February 1920; 71:113 February 1930.
JACQUES IBERT was born in Paris on August 15, 1890. Music had a strong appeal for him from his earliest years. Even before he could read, he could play the piano with technical accuracy and good taste. And, as a mere boy, he tells us, his greatest happiness consisted in listening to the music of Mozart and Chopin. His father, a business man, had planned a commercial career for his son, so that young Ibert was compelled to study his beloved art in deep secrecy. He bought himself the harmony treatises of Dubois and studied them in the solitude of the late hours of night. And when his father had left the home for the day, Jacques would steal several delicious hours of practising the piano.
Strange to say, however, Jacques' earliest ambition was not to become a musican--notwithstanding his great passion for the art--but to become an actor. It was for this purpose that-- when he finally convinced his father that he was not meant for business--he entered Paul Mounet's class at the Conservatory. However, he pursued music simultaneously with his histrionic studies, and his musical soul developed in a very short time. During his Conservatory days, he became a friend of Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud-- fellow-students--and while talking to them of ideals and ambitions, he realized fully for the first time that no future could appeal to him quite so much as that of a composer. With this realization, he plunged into his studies with greater enthusaism and devotion than ever.
The War, unfortunately, interrupted his musical progress in 1914. For several years, Ibert served his country in the Navy eventually becoming an officer in the French Naval Reserve. But when, in 1919, he could return to his study, he proved that he had forgotten very little by winning the much-desired Prix de Rome with a cantata, Le Poête et la Fée.
In Rome, Ibert produced the first work which was to place him as a composer of outstanding importance--a symphonic poem, the Ballad of Reading Gaol, after Oscar Wilde's famous poem.
"This symphonic-poem comprises three episodes," we read in an analysis by Arthur Hoerée. "The first depicts the strange march, light and gay, of one who, drunk with the sun, forgets his enormous debt against society for having killed the thing he loved. The merry round of fantoms animates the second episode with its mad arabesques, in an instrumentation rich with color: the musician utilizes a timbre with the sureness of a master, regulating the entrance of each successive instrument, and holding back, at his desire, the diabolic frenzy of the movement. . . . The vision has vanished, but the bass emerges, mysteriously, and the last vibrations link up with the last episode which suddenly becomes tragic: a milky day, the wailing of a fresh wind. The prayer