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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Dove: The Three Kings;  Howells, Bax, Tavener, Reger, Etc / Nicholas, Et Al
Release Date: 11/25/2008   Label: Delphian  
Catalog: 34047   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 26-50 of 177 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    My Own Country / Felicity Lott, Graham Johnson
    Label: Champs Hill Records   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Hubert Parry,  John Ireland,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Roger Quilter  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Lott,  Graham Johnson
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  • 27.
    The British Symphonic Collection
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 233316 Release Date: 08/30/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Frederic H. Cowen,  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor,  Frederick Delius  ... 
    Performer:  Mette Christina Ostergaard,  Margaret Fingerhut,  Jan Lund
    Conductor:  Douglas Bostock
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  • 28.
    British Composers - Guide To Britain
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29001 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Herbert Howells,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  Garth Benson,  Robert Tear,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Felicity Palmer  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Boris Ord,  André Previn,  Philip Ledger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Music Group of London,  Polyphony (Vocal Ensemble)
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  • 29.
    English Spring / Mark Elder, Halle Orchestra
    Label: Hallé   Catalog: 7528 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Arnold Bax,  Frank Bridge
    Conductor:  Mark Elder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 30.
    Music By Bax, Bridge & Serle / Adamson
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3060 Release Date: 05/24/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Humphrey Searle,  Frank Bridge,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Philip Adamson
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  • 31.
    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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  • 32.
    British Composers - Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Holst
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95433 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gerald Finzi,  Arnold Bax,  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  David Van Asch,  Nigel Perrin,  Robin Doveton,  John Eaton  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicholas Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Christopher Finzi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 33.
    British Composers: A Celebration
    Label: Warner 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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  • 34.
    Bax: Winter Legends / Wass, Judd, Bournemouth
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572597 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Ashley Wass
    Conductor:  James Judd
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
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  • 35.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 6 - 1946-1947
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61737 Release Date: 04/21/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Maurice Ravel,  Nikolai Medtner  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Stanley Chaloupka
    Conductor:  Franz Waxman,  William Steinberg,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Chamber Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Sir Thomas Beecham: English Music - Delius, German, Bantock, Bax, Lord Berners
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 09915 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Granville Bantock,  Arnold Bax,  Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners  ... 
    Performer:  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  Maureen Forrester,  Jean Pougnet,  Rene Soames  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society,  Luton Choral Society  ... 
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  • 37.
    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,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Theodore Holland  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Jones,  Michael Hampton
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  • 38.
    Bax, Bridge: Piano Quintets / Ashley Wass, Tippett Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572474 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Frank Bridge
    Conductor:  Ashley Wass
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tippett String Quartet
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  • 39.
    Rarities Of Piano Music At 'schloss Vor Husum' From The 2009 Festival
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 699 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Egon Kornauth,  Samuel Feinberg,  Theodor Leschetizky,  Gabriel Pierné  ... 
    Performer:  Jonathan Powell,  Nina Tichman,  Hubert Rutkowski,  Artur Pizarro  ... 
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  • 40.
    Bridge, Bax, Britten: Cello Sonatas / Moser, Rivinius
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93257 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  Benjamin Britten,  Frank Bridge
    Performer:  Johannes Moser,  Paul Rivinius
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  • 41.
    Ever Changing
    Label: Klavier Records   Catalog: 11181 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carlos Surinach,  Clark McAlister,  Albert Roussel,  Paul de Wailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Music Palm Beach
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  • 42.
    English Music For Strings / Yates, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 7244 Release Date: 05/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stephen Dodgson,  Richard Arnell,  Norman Del Mar,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Stephen Bell
    Conductor:  Martin Yates
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Concert Orchestra
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  • 43.
    Bax, Ireland: Piano Concertos / Bebbington, Curtis
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 242 Release Date: 04/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Ireland,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Mark Bebbington
    Conductor:  David Curtis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Swan
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  • 44.
    Sir John Barbirolli - The Great EMI Recordings - 40th Anniversary
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57767 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Giacomo Puccini,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  André Navarra
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 45.
    An English Recital / John Mccabhe
    Label: British Music Society   Catalog: 103 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Ernest John Moeran,  Benjamin Britten,  John Joubert  ... 
    Performer:  John McCabe
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  • 46.
    English Piano Sonatas / Binns
    Label: British Music Society   Catalog: 434 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax,  John Ireland,  Frank Bridge
    Performer:  Malcolm Binns
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  • 47.
    Bax: Coronation March, November Woods, Tintagel
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 473080 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Bernard Herrmann,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 48.
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 47 Release Date: 12/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Arnold Bax
    Performer:  Tasmin Little
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  • 49.
    Great English Choral Music
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 5033 Release Date: 12/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herbert Sumsion,  John Sanders,  Samuel Sebastian Wesley,  Richard Shephard  ... 
    Performer:  Mark Blatchly
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  • 50.
    The Devil's Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578085-86 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Robert Schumann,  György Ligeti,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Idil Biret,  Laurent Martin,  Ashley Wass  ... 
    Conductor:  Julius Rudel,  Johannes Wildner,  Alfred Walter,  Christian Benda  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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