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Cecil Forsyth

born: 30 November 1870
died: 7 December 1941
country: United Kingdom

Cecil Forsyth was born in Greenwich on 30 November 1870, emigrated to the USA in 1914 and died in New York in December 1941. Forsyth was a pupil of Stanford between 1891 and 1904, and played the viola in the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. His two comic operas were produced in London, and his ballad-cantata setting of The Ode to a Nightingale was published in 1894. A later choral ballad, The Luck of Eden Hall, appeared in 1922. There were various early songs and many later unaccompanied choral settings, though the only one that was at all well known is his humorous treatment of Old King Cole, published in 1912. In addition to the Viola Concerto, Forsyth also wrote The Dark Road for viola and strings (published in 1922) and Chanson Celtique for viola and piano (1906), later orchestrated. Henry Wood introduced his orchestral suite Four Studies from Victor Hugo at the Proms at Queen’s Hall in 1905.

Cecil Forsyth was possibly best-known for his books: first Music and Nationalism (1911), a study and plea for English opera; Orchestration (1914 and many later editions – a later less well known book covered choral orchestration); and A History of Music, written with Stanford (1916). In 1914 he joined the American publishing company H W Gray in New York, where he remained for the rest of his life. As a consequence, without his personal championship, his orchestral music was forgotten in the UK.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2005

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