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College of Music (where he found his studies with Charles Stanford too stifling), Bliss' earliest music (all later withdrawn and subsequently destroyed by the Read more composer) shows a strong knowledge of and interest in the music of Edward Elgar.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 99 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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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  • 2.
    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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  • 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  ... 
    On sale! $36.98
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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
    CD: $20.99
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    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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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    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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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    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
    CD: $58.99
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  • 12.
    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  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 13.
    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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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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
    CD: $75.99
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  • 18.
    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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  • 19.
    Weber, Bliss: Clarinet Quintets / Wolfgang Meyer, Eisler Quartett
    Label: Cavi Music   Catalog: 8553216 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Wolfgang Meyer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Eisler Quartet
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  • 20.
    Journey To The Stars / Mauceri, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 446403 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Karl-Birger Blomdahl,  John T. Williams,  Louis Barron  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Chorus
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  • 21.
    Bliss: Meditations On A Theme By John Blow, Metamorphic Variations / Lloyd-Jones
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572316 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Classical Meditation
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570364-65 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alla Pavlova,  Peter Sculthorpe,  Einojuhani Rautavaara,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
    Performer:  William Barton,  Michael Cox,  Nicholas Daniel,  David Greed  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  James Judd,  Hannu Lintu,  David Lloyd-Jones  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra,  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 23.
    A Festival Of Ballet
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67063 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Gustav Holst,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Hendricks,  Susan Bickley,  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Catherine Pierard  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe,  André Previn,  Paavo Järvi,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $100.98
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  • 24.
    Bliss: Christopher Columbus, Seven Waves Away / Adriano
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572226 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Sylvia Cápová
    Conductor:  Adriano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Chorus
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  • 25.
    The English Viola - Bliss, Delius, Bridge / Magyar, Imai
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572407 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Frederick Delius,  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Tadashi Imai,  Eniko Magyar
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