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Classical Composers A-Z: Arnold Bax

Peter Wintersgill, continuing his series on the great classical composers, introduces us to Arnold Bax.

ARNOLD BAX, 1883 - 1953

Born

8th November 1883 in London.

Father

Alfred, a barrister, a dreamer.

Mother

Charlotte, energetic and capable.

Family

Eldest of four, brothers Clifford and Aubrey, sister Evelyn.

Adolescence

Studied at the Royal Academy 1900 – 1905. Discovered the poetry of Yeats, which is of the romantic Irish variety.

Adult Life

He wrote the tone poems The Garden of Fand (1916), November Woods (1917) and Tintagel (1919). He was a brilliant pianist and wrote a lot for the piano. He visited Russia in 1910, was influenced by Russian music, also that of Sibelius. He wrote a ballet The Truth about Russian Dancers (1920), also seven symphonies, but these were never popular. Important chamber works include the First String Quartet (1918) and the Second Piano Sonata (1919).
Wrote his autobiography in 1943 – Farewell my Youth; was made Master of the King’s Musik in 1942, after which he wrote little.
He died 3rd October 1953 in Cork, aged 69, of coronary thrombosis.


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