The Cyprian Goddess (Symphony No. 3) Reprint of the autograph
Granville Bantock – The Cyprian Goddess
(London 7th August 1868–London 11th October 1946)
Granville Bantock is to be regarded as one of Britain’s most important composers of the first third of the 20th century, even though he is virtually unknown nowadays and hasn’t been acknowledged with a complete monograph in the 70 years since his death (although this situation is now slowly changing). Bantock was particularly prolific as a composer of vocal, and especially choral music. Particularly noteworthy are his oratorios (amongst others Omar Khayyám, 1906, The Song of Songs, 1922 and Christus, 1901), as well as his unaccompanied choral symphonies Atlanta in Calydon (1911) and The Vanity of Vanities (1913), which belong to the earliest more complex counterpoint choral pieces in over 200 years in Great Britain.
Bantock began his studies at the London Trinity College of Music under the guidance of Gordon Saunders. His later teachers at the Royal Academy of Music were Henry Lazarus, Reginald Steggall, Frederick Corder and Alexander Campbell Mackenzie. He was a lecturer at both conservatoires early on. In 1893 he became the leading editor of the Quarterly Musical Review. From 1897 to 1901 he was the musical director of the Tower in New Brighton and later accepted the call to be Principal of the School of Music of the Birmingham Midland institute (now Birmingham Conservatoire), and became Elgar’s successor as professor of music at Birmingham University in 1908 (he was knighted in 1930).
As a student of Frederick Corder at the London Royal Academy of Music, Wagner and especially Liszt were of great influence on Bantock which is particularly reflected in his tone poems (The Witch of Atlas, 1902, Fifine at The Fair, 1901), and in his programme symphonies. Especially these were largely popular amongst the British musical landscape at the beginning of the century. As for several other composers the First World War meant a considerable break in popularity for Bantock. Retrospectively, his style has frequently been described as eclectic, though many of his works display a sort of creativity which may not be attributed to harmony but much more to innovative formal procedures and his instrumentation which gained sustainable meaning in the course of 20th century British music history but is hardly appreciated thus far. Apart from these exceptional talents Herbert Antcliffe stresses Bantock’s importance as a patron of his colleagues and thus says that the title of an »English Liszt« is very fitting. Bantock was said to be a good conductor and constantly supported the works of his colleagues (among them were Boughton, Vaughan Williams, Harty and Bax). Furthermore he was a close and trusted friend to Havergal Brian, Josef Holbrooke and others; Clarence Raybould, Julius Harrison, Claude Powell, Cecil Gray and Christopher Edmunds were among his students. …
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