Arnold Bax was born in 1883 into a prosperous middle-class family. He started writing music at the age of twelve, and by the end of his life he had produced seven symphonies, numerous tone-poems, overtures, ballet and film scores, concertos, chamber music, piano pieces, choral works, and more than 130 songs; he also wrote short stories, plays and poetry under an Irish pseudonym. As a young man Bax was thought of as a difficult 'modern' composer, but he is now seen as a conservative, late romantic figure. 'I am not sure that middle-aged and unquestionably virtuous virgins ought to play my music', he once wrote, and this provides a clue to his highly individual style in which passionate melodic intensity is combined with ravishing harmonies and a flamboyant sense of colour. His reputation was at its peak in the 1920s and early '30s, when he was regarded, along with Elgar, Delius, Holst, and Vaughan Williams, as a major force in British music. By the 1940s, however, his creative powers had declined and he had lost touch with recent developments in his art.
When he died, in 1953, he was completely out of fashion, and it is only during the last few decades that his invigorating scores have been acclaimed by a new generation of performers and listeners. This is the most comprehensive catalogue of the music of Arnold Bax yet compiled. The main section is arranged in chronological order of composition with full documentation provided for every known manuscript and published edition. Questions of nomenclature and dating are addressed, and details of first performances, original programme notes, and background information are all included. Research has also been carried out into evidence for 'lost' works, unfulfilled projects and commissions, and the sources of the texts which Bax set to music. There is an extensive bibliography, a full discography, and a complete listing of the composer's literary works and occasional writings. The result of many years of research, this catalogue is a major source of information about the composer whom Sibelius called 'one of the greatest men of our time' and 'my son in music'.
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