Arnold Bax

Biography

Born: November 8, 1883; England   Died: October 3, 1953; Ireland  
Born of cultured and wealthy parents, Bax was insulated from the loss of direction that many composers felt during, and immediately after, the First World War. For him the prewar world of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky was still alive in all its myth and mystery. He described himself as "a brazen romantic," and in many respects could be considered the last of the European post-Romantic school of composers.
During his five years
Read more at the Royal Academy of Music, Bax was deeply impressed by the poetry of W.B. Yeats, founder of the Irish National Theater, an influence that led to a close association with Celtic culture and legend for the rest of his life. He wrote poetry under the pseudonym Dermot O'Byrne, and assisted his brother, the playwright and critic Clifford Bax, in editing a magazine called Orpheus, dedicated to the mystical arts.
His first mature work, In the Fairy Hills, is typical of the fantastic and exotic nature of his orchestral writing, chromatic and opulent, with a broad melodic sweep and luminous harmonies. The Garden of Fand (1916), an imaginative evocation of an ancient legend of sea gods and goddesses, is similarly impressionistic, though less naturalistic, than Debussy's La Mer. Tintagel, a tone poem inspired by traditional English stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table was composed in 1919 after a holiday in Cornwall and quickly became Bax's most frequently performed work.
Living in the shadow of composers of the stature of Elgar and Vaughan Williams, Bax received little public recognition until late in life. Up to the late 1930s, his songs, choral works, and chamber music were rarely heard, and, had it not been for a broadening of his style and the championship of Sir Adrian Boult, conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bax would probably be remembered, if at all, for his comparatively youthful works. Even in the 1960s the English music critic Burnett James was moved to call this neglect "myopic and moronic."
On a visit to Scandinavia in 1932, Bax met Sibelius and the two composers became friends; while Sibelius' influence is not obvious in Bax's symphonic style, he is clearly indebted to the Finnish master in his tone poems "Winter Legends" and "The tale the pine trees knew."
The symphony, a form to which he turned again and again between 1922 and 1939, provided an outlet for a more taut, structured and contrapuntal approach that nevertheless retains elements of fantasy and mysticism. Symphonies 1 and 3 were recorded in his lifetime, and for many years, the Symphony No. 3, with its exotic, colourful melodic lines and rich orchestration, remained popular with British orchestras as well as an occasional international performance. Symphony No. 5 is dedicated to Sibelius and No. 6 contains a brief quote from Sibelius' tone poem Tapiola.
Bax did not take well to approaching old age. He became withdrawn and dependent on alcohol. In 1943, he wrote a bitterly nostalgic memoir of his earlier years titled "Farewell, My Youth" (edited by Lewis Foreman; Scolar [sic] Press (Now Ashgate); 1992). In 1942, he was appointed Master of the Kings' Music and received a knighthood. His last work, written to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, is a set of madrigals called "What is it like to be young and fair?" He died while on holiday in Cork, Ireland. Read less
Music By Bax, Bridge & Serle / Adamson
Release Date: 05/24/2011   Label: Centaur Records  
Catalog: 3060   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 170 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    British String Quartets / Maggini Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8502021 Release Date: 09/13/2019   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  William Alwyn,  Malcolm Arnold,  Arnold Bax,  Lennox Berkeley  ... 
    Performer:  Michal Kaznowski,  Martin Outram,  Lorraine McAslan,  David Angel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Maggini String Quartet,  Maggini String Quartet members
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  • 2.
    Farbenspiel / Trio Partout
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 99196 Release Date: 09/06/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Maria Staud,  Arnold Bax,  Harald Genzmer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Partout
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  • 3.
    Frank Merrick With Henry Holst
    Label: Nimbus Grand Piano   Catalog: NI8826 Release Date: 08/02/2019   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Frederick Delius,  Edward Isaacs,  Edmund Rubbra  ... 
    Performer:  Henry Holst,  Frank Merrick
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  • 4.
    Bax, Cassado, Dallapiccola & Ligeti: Works for Solo Cello / de Saram
    Label: First Hand Records   Catalog: 49 Release Date: 05/31/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  György Ligeti,  Luigi Dallapiccola,  Gaspar Cassadó
    Performer:  Rohan de Saram
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  • 5.
    Duo Fantasy / duo526
    Label: Navona   Catalog: 6231 Release Date: 05/10/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Arnold Bax,  William Bolcom
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo526
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  • 6.
    Folk Tales: British Cello & Piano Miniatures / Peregrine, Ingham
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8574035 Release Date: 05/10/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Frank Bridge,  Ernest John Moeran,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Peregrine,  Antony Ingham
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  • 7.
    My Playlist for Baking
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578344 Release Date: 11/09/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Klara Kormendi,  François-Joël Thiollier,  Sebastian Knauer,  Romain Descharmes  ... 
    Conductor:  James Judd,  Michael Halász,  Jozef Kopelman,  Helmut Muller-Brühl  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Capella Istropolitana  ... 
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  • 8.
    My Playlist for Gardening
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578345 Release Date: 11/09/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Boris Tchaikovsky,  Cecil Burleigh,  Romeo Cascarino  ... 
    Performer:  Zina Schiff,  Mary Barranger,  Geoffrey Deemer,  Denisa Slepkovská  ... 
    Conductor:  Bjarte Engeset,  Kirill Ershov,  JoAnn Falletta,  Michael Halász  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Malmö Symphony Orchestra,  Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra,  Philadelphia Philharmonia  ... 
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  • 9.
    Mozart, Rachmaninov & Others: Works for Piano Duo / Sellick, Smith
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 3501 Release Date: 07/20/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Anton Arensky  ... 
    Performer:  Phyllis Sellick,  Cyril Smith
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  • 10.
    Fanfares / Wilson, Onyx Brass
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5221 Release Date: 03/16/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herbert Howells,  Malcolm Arnold,  Frederic Curzon,  Elisabeth Lutyens  ... 
    Conductor:  John Wilson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Onyx Brass
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  • 11.
    The Gluepot Connection / Griffiths, Londinium Chamber Choir
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 180 Release Date: 03/16/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Warlock,  Alan Rawsthorne,  John Ireland,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Griffiths
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Londinium Chamber Choir
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  • 12.
    English Works for Viola & Orchestra / Xiao, Kovacs, Budapest Symphony
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3486 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Hong-Mei Xiao
    Conductor:  Janos Kovács
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV
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  • 13.
    Bax: Symphony No. 2 & Winter Legends / Various
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 1137 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  John McCabe
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Northern Symphony
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  • 14.
    Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of A. E. Housman / Foulkes, Bednall
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 24162 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Burrows,  Arnold Bax,  Brian B. Daubney,  Margaret Wegener  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Foulkes,  David Bednall
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  • 15.
    British Cello Sonatas / Handy, Hughes
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 361 Release Date: 07/07/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Ireland,  Frederick Delius,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Lionel Handy,  Jennifer Hughes
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  • 16.
    Delius & Bax: Choral Music / Parris, The Carice Singers
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8573695 Release Date: 05/12/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  George Parris
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Carice Singers
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  • 17.
    For the Fallen - Elgar & Bax / Elder, Halle
    Label: Halle-numbus   Catalog: 7544 Release Date: 02/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Rachel Nicholls,  Jennifer France,  Joshua Ellicott,  Madeleine Shaw
    Conductor:  Mark Elder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Hallé City Chorus
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  • 18.
    Finzi, Bax & Ireland: Choral Works / O'Donnell, Cook, Westminster Abbey Choir
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 68167 Release Date: 01/27/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gerald Finzi,  Arnold Bax,  John Ireland
    Performer:  Daniel Cook
    Conductor:  James O'Donnell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
    CD: $21.99
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  • 19.
    Mater ora filium: Music for Epiphany / Ross, Choir of Clare College Cambridge
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907653 Release Date: 12/02/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Orlando de Lassus,  Traditional,  John Sheppard,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Papadopoulos
    Conductor:  Graham Ross
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Clare College Choir
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    My First Classical Albums
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8509003 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonio Vivaldi,  John Adams  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Jénö Jandó,  Jürgen Schuster,  Idil Biret  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Marin Alsop,  Keith Clark  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Éder String Quartet,  Danubius String Quartet,  German Wind Soloists  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 21.
    British Symphonies
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 2355 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  William Sterndale Bennett,  Cyril Rootham,  Ernest John Moeran,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicolas Braithwaite,  Vernon Handley,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Myer Fredman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    Arnold Bax, Stanley Bate: Cello Concertos
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 351 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Stanley Bate
    Performer:  Lionel Handy
    Conductor:  Martin Yates
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 24.
    The Art of Imagination / Queens Duo
    Label: Tyx Art   Catalog: 15051 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bruno Hilse,  Arnold Bax,  Antonio Zamara,  Andy Scott
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Queens Duo
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  • 25.
    Benjamin: Ballade; Stevens: Sinfonietta; Panufnik: Lullaby; Bax: Variations On
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 1117 Release Date: 10/02/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Benjamin,  Bernard Stevens,  Andrzej Panufnik,  Arnold Bax  ... 
    Conductor:  Boyd Neel,  Anthony Bernard
    CD: $14.99
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