The musical career of Sir George Dyson (1883-1964), like those of so many of his distinguished predecessors and contemporaries, began in the world of Church and organ music. By way of several scholarships, Dyson received formal musical training on the organ and in composition at the Royal College of Music. In 1904 he won the Mendelssohn travelling scholarship which enabled him to study in Italy and Germany for four years. It was during his stay in Dresden in 1907 that Dyson composed the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in D major. On his return to England, Dyson was engaged as music master at the Royal Naval School, Osborne, Isle of Wight (1908), then at Marlborough (1911) and finally at Rugby (1914). After the War, Dyson became head of music at Wellington College and joined the staff of the Royal College of Music. From 1924 to 1937 he was director of music at Winchester College. In terms of composition, these were his most productive years; In Honour of the City appeared in 1928 and the Canterbury Pilgrims in 1931. His list of compositions also includes symphonies and other smaller-scale choral works. Dyson succeeded Hugh Allen as director of the RCM in 1937, and three years later he received a knighthood. He was appointed KCVO in 1953. Besides music, Dyson also wrote several books including The New Music (Oxford 1924), which examined modern compositional techniques, and his official Manual of Grenade Fighting, which was adopted by the War Office in the First World War. Dyson’s setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in D is well written, dramatic and descriptive. Like his predecessors Parry and Stanford, Dyson’s approach to text-setting is both accurate and imaginative and his harmonic vocabulary is often bold. The vocal lines are characterized by broad, expansive phrases and Dyson clearly knew the power of unison writing. The overall feeling in this setting is one of exaltation.
from notes by Sarah Langdon © 1988