William Alwyn

Biography

Born: November 7, 1905; Northampton, England   Died: September 11, 1985; Southwold, England  
Born in 1905, William Alwyn was among the large group of post-Romantic English composers who gained popularity in the wake of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. A prolific composer, as well as a flautist and teacher, he worked successfully in various forms and idioms.

Alwyn was educated at the Northampton Grammar School, where he proved a promising student in both music and art. He attended the Royal Academy of Music from 1920
Read more to 1923, by which time he had settled on composition as his main interest in life. His studies were interrupted by the death of his father when he was eighteen, and he was forced to go to work. He taught in a preparatory school and made the rounds of theater orchestras as a flautist before returning to the Academy three years later as a composition teacher. Alwyn's own breakthrough as a composer took place in 1927, when Sir Henry Wood conducted the premiere of his Five Preludes for Orchestra at a promenade concert in London. His Piano Concerto was finished in 1930, and his oratorio, a setting of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake, was completed in 1936. Despite many honors and awards, Alwyn abruptly abandoned all of his early works in 1939, regarding his technique as inadequate.

Alwyn turned to neo-classicism in the 1940s, and found inspiration for a resumption of his career. His later work included four symphonies, the first dating from 1949, two concerti grossi, a series of four Scottish Dances, and several programmatic orchestral works including the symphonic prelude The Magic Island, the gorgeous and haunting Lyra Angelica for harp and strings, and Autumn Legend, as well as a pair of string quartets and other chamber pieces, and the operas The Libertine and Miss Julie. His seventy film scores include Penn of Pennsylvania (1941), Green For Danger (1946), Odd Man Out (1946), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Rocking Horse Winner (1950), as well as many documentaries. He was made a Fellow of the British Film Academy. In 1955, Alwyn gave up his teaching position, and from 1961 onward pursued composition virtually exclusively. In 1978, he was knighted. Alwyn died in 1985.

There was something of an Alwyn renaissance in the 1970s, both in performance and a series of landmark recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer himself, for the Lyrita label. In the 1980s and 1990s, younger conductors on other labels -- most notably Chandos -- began recording the symphonies and other orchestral works.

Alwyn's music is melodic and eminently accessible, if not always as adventurous as modern listeners might expect. His tunecraft could be both subtle and profound, as in The Magic Island (inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and the Lyra Angelica, both compelling visions of beauty and mystery that rank among the finest pieces of program music of their era. His symphonies are plainer and dryer, but only slightly less attractive, with beautiful scoring and great technical vitality. All of these pieces were often regarded as out-of-date in the relentlessly avant-garde world of contemporary music at the time they were published, and they were largely ignored outside of England at the time. With the rebirth of interest in twentieth-century English music, however, Alwyn's work has gradually been finding a wider audience since the 1980s. Read less

There are 62 William Alwyn recordings available.

Select a specific Work or Popular Work below

or

Works

Formats & Featured

William Alwyn


MOST POPULAR WORKS
WORKS
I. The Lost Lamb
II. April Shower
III. Bluebells
IV. Violets
I. Allegro ritmico - Andante tranquillo
II. Allegretto scherzando - In tempo grazioso (quasi tempo di valse) - In tempo primo
III. Andante sostenuto e semplice
IV. Allegro vivace
I. Andante e rubato -
II. Vivace
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Allegro con fuoco
I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Allegretto e molto semplice
III. Allegro moderato alla marcia - Coda: Allegro e pesante
I. Moderato molto e ritmico
II. Adagio con moto (alla Siciliano)
III. Vivace
I. Allegro moderato e vigoroso
II. Adagio ed espressivo
III. Vivace (allegro ma non troppo)
I. Maestoso - Moderato e ritmico
II. Andante - Vivace
III. Andante
No. 1. Moderato e ritmico
No. 2. Waltz Tempo: Languidamente
No. 3. Allegro scherzando [ma non troppo allegro]
No. 4. Moderato
No. 5. Poco allegretto e semplice
No. 6. Allegro giocoso
I. Sunday Morning
II. Snowdrop
III. Twilight
IV. Happy-Go-Lucky
No. 1. Tempo rubato e capriccioso
No. 2. Scherzando
No. 3. Moderato
No. 4. Grazioso
No. 5. Lento
No. 6. Allegro giocoso
No. 7. Lento
No. 8. Vivace, ma ritmico
No. 9. Lento e lugubre
No. 10. In tempo piacevole
No. 11. Presto
I. Main Titles
II. Watching the Eagles
III. The Samson Way
IV. Father and Son
V. The Hammer Reel
VI. Geordie and Jean
I. The Tinker's Tune
II. The Village Band
III. Harvest Moon
IV. The Church Bells Ring
No. 1. Through the Centuries
No. 2. Holding the Night
No. 3. Separation
No. 4. Drought
No. 5. Spring Rain
No. 6. Invocation to the Queen of Moonlight
No. 7. Our Magic Horse
I. Adagio
II. Adagio ma non troppo
III. Moderato
IV. Allegro jubiloso
No. 1. Undine
No. 2. Aquarium
No. 3. The Honeysuckle
No. 4. Metronome
No. 5. Paradise
No. 6. Portrait in a Mirror
I. Prelude: Moderato a calmato
II. Romanza: Andante e tranquillo
III. Chorale: Broad and expressive but with movement
IV. Fughetta: Allegro moderato e molto ritmico
V. Arioso: Con moto e placido
VI. Carillon: Allegro commodo
VII. Intermezzo: Slow and clear
VIII. Capriccio: Allegro molto (quasi presto volante)
No. 1. Everything is Now
No. 2. Summer Rain
No. 3. Visitation
No. 4. Summer Night
No. 5. Circle
No. 6. Response
I. Prelude: Lento funebre - Tranquillo
II. Police Chase: Moderato - Allegro agitato
III. Delirium and Lullaby: Moderato, ma misterioso - Lento, molto tranquillo - Adagio molto
IV. Nemesis [Finale]: Lento funebre - Agitato - A tempo, lento funebre
I. Title Music
II. Banquet Scene
III. Love Music
IV. The King's Portrait
V. Finale
Prelude
Fugue
No. 1 in E flat major
No. 2 in A major
No. 3 in A major
No. 4 in F major
No. 5 in D major
No. 6 in G and F sharp major
No. 7 in B major
No. 8 in E flat major
No. 9 in C major
No. 10 in D major
No. 11 in D flat major
No. 12 in D major
I. Moderato e grazioso
II. Allegro molto
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro vivace, molto ritmico
I. Moderato - Lento - Adagio
II. Allegro scherzando
III. Adagio - Allegro moderato - Adagio e tranquillo - Allegro al fine
I. Allegro molto
II. Adagio - Allegro - Adagio
I. The Indian Queen
II. A Trip to Italy
III. Colonel Thornton's Strathspey
IV. Reel: The Perthshire Hunt
V. Reel: Loch Earn
VI. Carleton House
VII. Miss Ann Carnegie's Hornpipe
No. 1. Dawn at Sea
No. 2. Sea-Mist
No. 3. Song of the Drowned Man
No. 4. Black Gulls
I. Moderato molto ritmico
II. Adagio e poco rubato
III. Allegro
I. Maestoso: Allegro ritmico e jubilante
II. Andante con moto e semplice
III. Molto vivace
I. Moderato e grazioso
II. Andantino
III. Allegro (quasi valse tempo)
I. Prelude
II. Theme and Variations
III. Finale alla capriccio
No. 1. Nocturne
No. 2. Illumination
No. 3. Harvest
I. Main Titles and Grand Ball
II. Theatre Music
III. On the Barge
IV. Finale
I. Minuet: Moderato
II. Valse Miniature: Allegro grazioso
III. Jig: Allegro molto - Andante - Allegro molto
I. Main Titles
II. At Home
III. Ostriches and Waterslides
I. Adagio
II. Allegro leggiero
III. Adagio ma con moto
IV. Allegro jubilante
Part I: Con moto - Molto moderato - Quasi adagio molto calmato
Part II: Allegro molto - Moderato largamente - Molto tranquillo
I. Allegro molto
II. Poco adagio
III. Allegro con fuoco
I. Maestoso ma con moto - Allegro - A tempo primo
II. Molto Vivace - Meno mosso, ma con moto - Tempo primo
III. Adagio e molto calmato - Allegro - Tempo primo - Maestoso
I. Moderato - Allegro ma non troppo -
II. Andante sostenuto -
III. Allegro con fuoco
IV. Tempo di marcia funebre
I. Overture
II. Prelude and Opening Scene: Moderato
III. Love Scene [Part 1]: Slow
IV. Love Scene [Part 2]: Warmly
V. Hide and Seek [Scherzo]
VI. Panic and Flight: Slow - Allegro molto agitato - Molto allegro
VII. Finale: Slow but with movement - Allegro giocoso
VIII. Coda [End Titles]: Grazioso
I. Prelude: Allegro vivace - Meno mosso, broader - A tempo I
II. Wedding and Funeral: Moderato, maestoso - Alla marcia funebre
III. Fire [Murder Arsonical]: Misterioso - Molto allegro, con fuoco
IV. Christabel: Lento moderato
V. Punting Scene [The Ferry]: Allegro scherzoso
VI. Utopian Sunset [Finale]: Slow - Poco animato [ma sempre tranquillo]
I. Main Titles
II. Glider Flight
III. Stella and Stephen
IV. Spanish Gipsy Wedding
I. Allegro molto - Meno mosso - Allegro molto - Adagio
II. Molto vivace
III. Andante - Poco piu mosso
IV. Allegro ma non troppo - Poco piu mosso - Meno mosso, grazioso - Piu mosso - Meno mosso - Molto meno mosso - Andante espressivo
No. 1. Winter Landscape
No. 2. Elegy, "Frozen Waters"
No. 3. Serenade, "Snow Shower"


YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In