Sir Arthur Bliss

Biography

Born: Aug 2, 1891   Died: Mar 27, 1975   Country: England   Period: 20th Century
Although outspoken in his support of the post-World War I Parisian avant-garde during his youth, English composer Arthur Bliss ended his long career as a dedicated proponent of a more conservative, neo-Romantic musical aesthetic. Educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and at the Royal College of Music (where he found his studies with Charles Stanford too stifling), Bliss' earliest music (all later withdrawn and subsequently destroyed by the Read more composer) shows a strong knowledge of and interest in the music of Edward Elgar.

After service with the Royal Fusiliers (and later the Grenadier Guards) during the War, however, Bliss' musical aesthetic changed dramatically, and he quickly became known as a thoroughly "modern" composer, owing more allegiance to the exciting happenings on the continent than to the musical life of his own country. His music from the 1920s (such as the Rhapsody for two voices and chamber ensemble) is characterized by unusual vocal techniques, jazz influence, and striking harmonic procedures (not to mention occasionally exotic ensembles (e.g., the incidental music to The Tempest, 1921, scored for two male voices, trumpet, trombone, piano, gong, and five percussionists!).

Bliss' notable career as a conductor began in 1921 with his appointment as conductor of the Portsmouth Philharmonic Society. Invited to compose a work for the Three Choirs Festival in 1922, Bliss created one of his best-known works, the Colour Symphony; this adventuresome work had the unwelcome side effect of causing a strain in the relationship between Bliss and Elgar, a dedicated conservative through whom the actual commission for the work had come. After two years in California with his brother and father (1923-1925) (during which time Bliss lived in semi-retirement from the musical world and married Trudy Hoffmann), the composer returned to Great Britain and resumed his active composing career with the Introduction and Allegro of 1926 (commissioned and premiered by Leopold Stokowski).

Over the course of the 1920s Bliss began to re-evaluate his heritage as a composer and found him veering away from the "modernist" tendencies of the post-War years in favor of a richer melodic approach in which sound musical rhetoric and construction occasionally suffer in favor of expression and clarity of dramatic purpose. The five-movement Morning Heroes, a choral symphony dedicated to the victims of World War I and premiered in 1930, is a fine example of Bliss' new outlook.

The first years of World War II were spent in the United States teaching at Berkeley, but Bliss returned to England to take over as director of music at the BBC from 1942 to 1944. Knighted for services to British music in 1950, Bliss served as Master of the Queen's Music from 1953 to until his death in 1975 at the age of 83.

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Bliss: Piano Sonata; Busoni: 24 Preludes / Trevor Barnard
Release Date: 10/24/2006   Label: Divine Art  
Catalog: 25011   Number of Discs: 1
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Bliss: Concerto For Piano & Orchestra / Barnard, Sargent, Philharmonia Orchestra
Release Date: 10/24/2006   Label: Divine Art  
Catalog: 24106   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 116 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sir Adrian Boult - The Complete Conductor
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1927023 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Gustav Holst,  Robert Simpson,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Palmer
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $35.49
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  • 2.
    Julius Harrison, Arthur Bliss, Arthur Benjamin: Sonatas For Viola & Piano Composed 1933-1945
    Label: Ashmont Music   Catalog: 5638209316 Release Date: 11/15/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arthur Benjamin,  Julius Harrison
    Performer:  Patricia McCarty,  Eric Larson
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  • 3.
    Bliss Conducts Bliss - The Beatitudes, A Colour Symphony, Pastoral
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 9818 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  Jennifer Vyvyan,  Henry Taylor,  Nancy Evans  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Reginald Jacques,  Constant Lambert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Bax, Bliss, Vaughan Williams: Sonatas, Suite For Viola And Piano / Euler, Rivinus
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 9031796 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arnold Bax,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Christian Euler,  Paul Rivinius
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  • 5.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4765171 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Lord Berners,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Antony Gray
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  • 6.
    Icon - John McCormack [4-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 827642 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  James L. Molloy,  Traditional,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Performer:  John McCormack,  Gerald Moore,  Nellie Melba,  Edna Thornton  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Collingwood,  Walter Goehr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 7.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Great British Composers, Vol. 1
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5195 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eric Coates,  Haydn Wood,  Frederic Curzon,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Johnson,  Charles Williams,  Frederic Curzon,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
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  • 8.
    The English Song Collection / Tilbrook, Gilchrist
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 431 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gerald Finzi,  Kenneth Leighton,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  James Gilchrist,  Anna Tilbrook,  Michael Cox,  Gareth Hulse
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fitzwilliam String Quartet
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  • 9.
    Merrymakers - British Light Classics
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1192 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Eric Coates,  Trevor Duncan,  Ernest Tomlinson,  Hamish McCunn  ... 
    Conductor:  Iain Sutherland
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Concert Orchestra
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  • 10.
    English Choral Music
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 213 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arnold Bax,  Michael Tippett,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Rachel Elliott,  Hester [Soprano Vocal] Gomme,  Ruth Morris,  Tanya Wicks  ... 
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  • 11.
    Britten & Bliss String Quartets / Barbirolli Quartet
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6165 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Frederick Delius,  Henry Purcell,  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barbirolli Quartet
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  • 12.
    British Clarinet Sonatas / Collins, McHale
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10704 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Ireland,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Collins,  Michael McHale
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  • 13.
    Esprit de Corps - America's Ceremonial Music / USAF Concert Band, Ceremonial Brass & Singing Sergeants
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: 70742 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Hoyt Losey,  John Philip Sousa,  Arthur Wellesley Hughes,  Henry Fillmore  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Concert Band
    CD: $17.99
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  • 14.
    Great Cathedral Organs [13-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0852952 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Louis-Claude Daquin,  Henry Purcell,  Sigfrid Karg-Elert  ... 
    Performer:  Noel Rawsthorne,  Francis Jackson,  Douglas Guest,  Simon Preston  ... 
    On sale! $67.98
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  • 15.
    Icon: Vernon Handley - Champion Of British Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 98202 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Performer:  Nigel Kennedy,  Tasmin Little
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Golden Age Of Light Music - The Composer Conducts Vol 2
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5178 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Alfred Newman,  Don Gillis,  Robert Farnon  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Sandford,  Montague Ewing,  Albert W. Ketèlbey,  Harriet Cohen
    Conductor:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Alfred Newman,  Don Gillis,  Robert Farnon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Neapolitan Novelty Band
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  • 17.
    British Composers - Bliss
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29018 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Arto Noras,  Sybil Michelow,  Norman Knight,  John Shirley-Quirk  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Vernon Handley,  Paavo Berglund,  Sir Malcolm Arnold  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 18.
    Bliss, Walford Davies, Bowen: Violin Sonatas / Luck, Rickard
    Label: Em Records   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Henry Walford Davies,  York Bowen
    Performer:  Rupert Luck,  Matthew Rickard
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  • 19.
    British Ballet Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49819 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan,  Lord Berners,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Robert Irving,  Vernon Handley,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
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  • 20.
    The British Music Collection - British Music For Brass
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 473714 Release Date: 05/06/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Benjamin Britten,  Malcolm Arnold,  Michael Tippett  ... 
    Conductor:  Elgar Howarth,  Howard Snell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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  • 21.
    British Composers: A Celebration
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95480 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Gustav Holst,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Ian Hare,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Bruce Russell,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Christopher Bishop  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir  ... 
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  • 22.
    Celebration - Royal Music From Westminster Abbey
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 144 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Sir William Walton,  Samuel Sebastian Wesley  ... 
    Performer:  Iain Simcock
    Conductor:  Martin Neary
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Brass,  Westminster Abbey Choir
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  • 23.
    Icon - Melos Ensemble
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 18414 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Lamar Crowson,  Cecil Aronowitz,  Manoug Parikian  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London Members,  Melos Ensemble London
    On sale! $87.98
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  • 24.
    English Music For Viola / Matthew Jones, Michael Hampton
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572579 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rebecca Clarke,  Sir William Walton,  Frank Bridge,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Hampton,  Matthew Jones
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  • 25.
    Cinema Spectacular / Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4803787 Release Date: 11/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Constant Lambert,  Arnold Bax,  Arthur Benjamin,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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