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College of Music (where he found his studies with Charles Stanford too stifling), Bliss' earliest music (all later withdrawn and subsequently destroyed by the Read more composer) shows a strong knowledge of and interest in the music of Edward Elgar.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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Browse 1-25 of 107 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Last Night of the Proms / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: RPOSP009 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  John Philip Sousa,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  Lucy Parham
    Conductor:  Philip Ellis,  David Arnold,  Robin Stapleton,  Owain Arwel Hughes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 2.
    British Cello Concertos / Wallfisch
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gerald Finzi,  Arnold Bax,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Charles Villiers Stanford  ... 
    Performer:  Raphael Wallfisch
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Bryden Thomson,  Norman Del Mar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    British Violin Sonatas, Vol. 2 / Little, Lane
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10899 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  John Ireland,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Tasmin Little,  Piers Lane
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  • 4.
    Bliss: Morning Heroes; Hymn for Apollo / Davis, BBC Symphony
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5159 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Chorus
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  • 5.
    The Complete Piano Music Of Sir Arthur Bliss, Vol. 2
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 148 Release Date: 08/07/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Mark Bebbington
    CD: $18.99
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  • 6.
    Bax, Dyson, Veale, Bliss: Violin Concertos
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 24153 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Veale,  Arnold Bax,  George Dyson,  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Lydia Mordkovitch
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of London Sinfonia  ... 
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  • 7.
    Bliss: The Beatitudes... / Harper, English, Bliss
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 1115 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Pamela Bowden,  Heather Harper,  Gerald English,  Jennifer Vyvyan
    Conductor:  Rudolf Schwarz,  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Choral Society,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union  ... 
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  • 8.
    British Music / Groves
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564614724 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 24
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Eric Coates,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Henry Walford Davies  ... 
    Performer:  Noel Rawsthorne,  Anne Collins,  Patricia Hogan,  Claudia Lindsey  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Groves,  Sir Charles Mackerras
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Liverpool Chorus,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $75.98
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  • 9.
    Decca Sound  – Mono Years 1944 -1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $213.99
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  • 10.
    Classics For The People Vol 2 / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94935 Release Date: 11/18/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Franz von Suppé,  John Philip Sousa,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Lucy Parham,  Deborah Norman,  Timothy Gill,  Roderick Elms
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union
    CD: $11.99
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  • 11.
    Hymns to Saint Cecilia / Gough, Royal Holloway Choir
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 68047 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James MacMillan,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gabriel Jackson,  Bernard Rose  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Lott,  Jack Wilde,  Sophie [Soprano Vocal] Edwards,  James [Tenor Vocal] Gallimore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rupert Gough
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Holloway Choir
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  • 12.
    No Exceptions, No Exemptions / Robin Trischler, Malcolm Martineau
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 401 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Albéric Magnard,  George Butterworth,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Frederick Delius  ... 
    Performer:  Malcolm Martineau,  Robin Tritschler,  Ruth Gibbons
    CD: $17.99
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  • 13.
    The Crown Imperial / Higgins, London Symphonic Concert Band
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 138 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Alexander Mackenzie,  Percy Godfrey  ... 
    Conductor:  Tom Higgins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphonic Band
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  • 14.
    The Great Recordings / Malcolm Sargent [18-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 634121 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gustav Holst  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  James Milligan,  Duncan Robertson  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Huddersfield Choral Society,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $64.49
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  • 15.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $38.98
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  • 16.
    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:  Arthur Benjamin,  Julius Harrison,  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Eric Larson,  Patricia McCarty
    CD: $14.99
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  • 17.
    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
    CD: $20.99
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  • 18.
    Icon - John McCormack [4-CD Set]
    Label: Warner 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
    CD: $35.49
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  • 19.
    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,  Richard Addinsell  ... 
    Conductor:  Eric Johnson,  Charles Williams,  Frederic Curzon,  Muir Mathieson  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 20.
    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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    CD: $34.99
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  • 21.
    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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    CD: $9.99
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  • 22.
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 221 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Conductor:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    CD: $12.99
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  • 23.
    English Choral Music
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 213 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Tippett,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Lennox Berkeley,  Herbert Howells  ... 
    Performer:  Rachel Elliott,  Hester [Soprano Vocal] Gomme,  Ruth Morris,  Tanya Wicks  ... 
    CD: $12.49
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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