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 at the
Read more 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
Bax: Orchestral Works  / Andrew Davis, Bbc Philharmonic
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10829   Number of Discs: 1
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Bax: Symphonies 1 & 7 / Fredman, Leppard, LPO
Release Date: 11/14/2006   Label: Lyrita  
Catalog: 232   Number of Discs: 1
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Bax: Tone Poems / Boult, London Philharmonic
Release Date: 01/09/2007   Label: Lyrita  
Catalog: 231   Number of Discs: 1
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Bax: Symphony No 6, Orchestral Works / Handley, Et Al
Release Date: 10/09/2007   Label: Lyrita  
Catalog: 296   Number of Discs: 1
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Bax: Symphonies 2 & 5 / Fredman, Leppard, Lpo
Release Date: 05/13/2008   Label: Lyrita  
Catalog: 233   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 151-175 of 178 Available Recordings
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  • 151.
    Sir Hamilton Harty Conducts Mussorksy, Balakirev, Et Al
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 1169 Release Date: 08/25/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Arnold Bax,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Harold Williams,  Dennis Noble,  Robert Easton,  Dora Labette  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Hamilton Harty
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra Chorus,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 152.
    Bax: Symphony No 1, In The Faery Hills, Etc / Lloyd-jones
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8553525 Release Date: 06/09/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 153.
    Bax: Octet, String Quintet, Etc / Asmf Chamber Ensemble
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9602 Release Date: 03/17/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Margaret Fingerhut
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.
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  • 154.
    English Seasons / Marriner, Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454444 Release Date: 02/18/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Frank Bridge,  John Foulds,  Percy Aldridge Grainger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 155.
    Bax: Nonet;  Lambert, Rieti / De Curtis, Feige, Et Al
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47328 Release Date: 11/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Vittorio Rieti,  Constant Lambert,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Carlo Feige,  Alessandro De Curtis
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Grazioli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Harmonia Ensemble
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  • 156.
    Clarinet Concordia - Bernstein, Copland, Bax, Arnold / Meyer
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 18016 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Malcolm Arnold,  Arnold Bax,  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  Paul Meyer,  Eric Le Sage
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  • 157.
    Bax, Bliss: Oboe Quintets;  Britten / Hunt, Tale Quartet
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 763 Release Date: 06/18/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arnold Bax,  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Patrik Swedrup,  Gordon Hunt,  Tale Olsson,  Ingegerd Kierkegaard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tale String Quartet,  Tale String Quartet members
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  • 158.
    Kirsten Flagstad Vol 4 - Wagner, Grieg, Sibelius, Et Al
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1824 Release Date: 01/01/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Jean Sibelius,  Richard Wagner,  Stephen Collins Foster  ... 
    Performer:  Waldemar Alme,  Kirsten Flagstad,  Bruno Walter,  Edwin McArthur  ... 
    Conductor:  José Iturbi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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  • 159.
    Mater, Ora Filium - Choral Music By Bax And Villette
    Label: Herald Records   Catalog: 176 Release Date: 12/22/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Pierre Villette
    Performer:  Christopher Hughes
    Conductor:  Ralph Allwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rodolfus Choir
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  • 160.
    Henry Wood
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 1150 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Arnold Bax,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Beatrice Harrison,  Elisabeth Schumann,  Marie Wilson
    Conductor:  Sir Henry Wood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 161.
    Debussy, Ravel, Bax, Casella: Works For 2 Pianos
    Label: Connoisseur Society   Catalog: 4171 Release Date: 12/01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Alfredo Casella,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Cosmo Buono,  David Bradshaw
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  • 162.
    Bax, Hummel, Brahms, Bach / Hartmut Lidemann, Ben Martin
    Label: Tacet   Catalog: 35 Release Date: 02/01/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Hartmut Lindemann,  Ben Martin
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  • 163.
    Bax: Sinfonietta, Etc / Barry Wordsworth, Slovak Po
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223102 Release Date: 12/17/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 164.
    An Irish Rhapsody / Handley, Thomson, Ulster Orchestra
    Label: Chandos Collect   Catalog: 6525 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Sir Hamilton Harty,  Arnold Bax,  Ernest John Moeran
    Performer:  Lee Pan Hon
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
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  • 165.
    Bax: Piano Quintet, String Quartet No 2 / Norris, Mistry Qt
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8795 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  David Owen Norris
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mistry String Quartet
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  • 166.
    Bax: String Quartet No 1, Etc / English Qt, Mccabe, Kanga
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8391 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Skaila Kanga,  John McCabe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English String Quartet
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  • 167.
    Bax: Symphony No 2, Nympholet / Thomson, London Po
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8493 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Malcolm Hicks
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 168.
    Bax: Symphony No 3, Etc / Thomson, London Philharmonic
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8454 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 169.
    Britten: 4 Sea Interludes, Etc;  Bridge, Bax / Handley
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8473 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Frank Bridge,  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
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  • 170.
    Seascapes
    Label: Chandos Collect   Catalog: 6538 Release Date: 10/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Benjamin Britten,  Jean Sibelius,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson,  Vernon Handley,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  George Hurst
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Orchestra  ... 
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  • 171.
    Bax: Clarinet Sonata; Bliss, Vaughan Williams / Janet Hilton
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8683 Release Date: 09/30/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Arnold Bax,  Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Performer:  Keith Swallow,  Janet Hilton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lindsay String Quartet
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  • 172.
    Bax: Symphony No 4, Tintagel / Thomson, Ulster Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8312 Release Date: 07/29/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra
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  • 173.
    Bax: Symphony No 6, Etc / Thomson, London Po
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 8586 Release Date: 01/01/1980   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 174.
    Bax: The Complete Works For Cello & Piano / Gregor-smith
    Label: Asv   Catalog: 896 Release Date: 01/06/1970   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Yolande Wrigley,  Bernard Gregor-Smith
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  • 175.
    Meditations / Jarvi, Cortese, Langlamet
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9395 Release Date: 01/06/1970   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Harald Genzmer,  Claude Debussy,  Nathan Currier  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Cortese,  Maarika Järvi,  Marie-Pierre Langlamet
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