Hyperion Records

Somervell, Sir Arthur (1863-1937)  

Sir Arthur Somervell

born: 5 June 1863
died: 2 May 1937
country: United Kingdom

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Born in the Lake District, Sir Arthur Somervell (1863–1937) enjoyed a public school and Oxbridge education at Uppingham and King’s College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge he became an early student of Stanford, later studying in Berlin for two years and subsequently with Parry at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught. He had a long career as a Civil Servant concerned with the administration of the teaching of music, and he was thus responsible for establishing music as a serious and widely studied school subject. He succeeded Stainer as Inspector of Music to the Board of Education in 1900, was promoted to Principal Inspector in 1920, and retired in 1928. His service earned him a knighthood.

Somervell was best known in his lifetime for his songs and song cycles, the latter including the first setting of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, Tennyson’s Maud and Browning’s James Lee’s Wife and A Broken Arc. Celebrity also came in his thirties for choral works written for the festivals of the day, including The Forsaken Merman (Leeds, 1895), The Power of Sound (Kendal, 1895), Ode to the Sea (Birmingham, 1897) and Intimations of Immortality (Leeds, 1907). In 1917 he produced To the Vanguard in tribute to the events of the war, prefaced with words from ‘The Retreat from Mons’, and in 1926 the delightful Yuletide cantata Christmas. Just occasionally one of these might be revived by a local choral society, but completely superseded are his half-dozen once-popular children’s operettas on fairy-tale subjects.

Somervell’s range of orchestral music is not huge, but includes the orchestral ballad Helen of Kirconnell, an overture Young April, a five-movement suite for small orchestra In Arcady, and the Symphony in D minor, Thalassa, with its notable slow movement entitled ‘Lost in Action’. Though the latter is in fact a memorial to the ill-fated Captain Scott, then recently lost in the Antarctic, this title ensured its regular stand-alone performance during the First World War. There is also a Concertstück for violin and orchestra from 1913, a Piano Concerto, and a late Violin Concerto, very much in thrall to Vaughan Williams (recorded on Hyperion CDA67420).

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2011

Albums
'Somervell & Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concertos' (CDA67420)
Somervell & Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67420  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Somervell & Cowen: Piano Concertos' (CDA67837)
Somervell & Cowen: Piano Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67837 
'Somervell & Jacob: Clarinet Quintets' (CDH55110)
Somervell & Jacob: Clarinet Quintets
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDH55110  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service  
'Somervell: Maud & A Shropshire Lad' (CDH55089)
Somervell: Maud & A Shropshire Lad
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55089  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad; Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel' (CDA67378)
Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad; Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67378 
'Coleridge-Taylor & Somervell: Violin Concertos' (CDA67420)
Coleridge-Taylor & Somervell: Violin Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67420  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Cowen & Somervell: Piano Concertos' (CDA67837)
Cowen & Somervell: Piano Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67837 
'Jacob & Somervell: Clarinet Quintets' (CDH55110)
Jacob & Somervell: Clarinet Quintets
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDH55110  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service  
'Praise to the Lord' (CDH55036)
Praise to the Lord
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55036  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel; Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad' (CDA67378)
Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel; Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67378 
'A Treasury of English Song' (HYP30)
A Treasury of English Song
HYP30  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
A Broken Arc (Somervell)
A Shropshire Lad (Somervell)
After  No 6 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
Chorus angelorum (Somervell)
Clarinet Quintet in G major (Somervell)
From Easter Day  No 7 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
Maud (Somervell)
Meeting at night  No 2 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
My star  No 3 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
Nay but you, who do not love her  No 4 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
Normandy 'Symphonic Variations' (Somervell)
Piano Concerto in A minor 'Highland' (Somervell)
Praise to the holiest in the height  First line to Chorus angelorum (Somervell)
Such a starved bank of moss  No 1 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
The worst of it  No 5 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
The year's at the spring  No 8 of A Broken Arc (Somervell)
Violin Concerto in G minor (Somervell)
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