Have you heard of the composer Freda Swain? I sure hadn’t. But William Wiegus has now introduced her to me. These are so sweet!

From the YouTube Page (and you might want to subscribe to his channel!):

Freda Swain (1902-1985)
Three Whimsies for unaccompanied Oboe (1969)
1. Jig-Jog (0:00-0:45)
2. Lament (0:46-2:11)
3. Reel (2:12-3:14)

William Wielgus, oboe
Home Recording, July 4, 2022

Illustrations of Paddington Bear by Peggy Fortnum

Freda Swain was born in Portsmouth, England on 31 October 1902, the daughter of Thomas and Gertrude (nee Allen) Swain. Her first piano lessons (from age 11) were at the Tobias Matthay Piano School in London, given by Matthay’s sister Dora.] Three years later she went to study composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and piano with Arthur Alexander (1891-1969) at the Royal College of Music] earning awards including the Sullivan Prize in 1921.

In 1924 Swain began teaching at the Royal College and in 1936 she founded the British Music Movement to help promote the efforts of young composers and artists. Swain married Arthur Alexander in 1921, and before World War II the couple toured South Africa and Australia, lecturing, broadcasting and performing recitals. They were both on the founding board of the Surrey College of Music from the mid-1940s. From 1942 they lived in a bungalow on Chinnor Hill in Oxfordshire. Freda Swain died on 29 January 1985.

Swain wrote some 450 pieces, piano and chamber music as well as many songs, but also opera and orchestral works, including two piano concertos and a clarinet concerto. Few were performed aside from a series featured in the NEMO Series of concerts that Swain herself founded after the wa Her first major success was The Harp of Aengus for violin and orchestra (after the Yeats poem), with soloist Achille Rivarde at the Queen’s Hall in January 1925. The solo Violin Sonata was premiered by May Harrison at the Wigmore Hall on 8 December, 1933. Her ‘Airmail’ Piano Concerto, mailed in instalments to her husband Arthur Alexander while he was stuck in South Africa during World War II, was performed by Alexander in Cape Town. She composed a one-act opera Second Chance, but left two other operas incomplete.

Piano compositions include three large scale piano sonatas and 40 or so other works for solo piano, including many educational pieces. There is also a substantial cello sonata, two violin sonatas (one with piano, the other unaccompanied), two string quartets, a piano quartet, a sextet with horn and clarinet, a Suite for Six Trumpets and many other chamber and instrumental pieces.

Swain’s surviving manuscripts were handed down to her pupil and friend David Stevens, founder of the Swain-Alexander Trust. In turn they were passed on to Swiss pianist Timon Altwegg in 2005, who has begun recording the piano works for Toccata Classics.

(Information from the Wikipedia article on Freda Swain)

28. January 2019 · Comments Off on A New Composer to Me · Categories: Composers, Contemporary Composers, NewToMyEars™

There are so many new composers I know nothing about. Perhaps I’ll start a series that features composers who are new to my ears. We shall see.

This composer was great fun to listen to, especially as she talks about her composition process.

Hannah Kendall, talking about her work Baptistry.

06. March 2018 · Comments Off on John’s Moving On · Categories: Composers, Movies

But he sure has composed a ton for the series!

Film composer John Williams has revealed he will only write the music for one more Star Wars movie.

The composer, who has written the music for Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Schindler’s List, recently spoke to California radio station KUSC, and said he wouldn’t write any more music for the Star Wars franchise after Episode IX, which is expected in 2019.

Williams has so far composed the scores for eight of the Star Wars films: the original Star Wars (A New Hope), its sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, as well as The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

In recent years, the composer has handed the reins over to other composers: in 2016, Michael Giacchino composed the music for Rogue One, and John Powell will score this year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Williams told KUSC: “We know JJ Abrams is preparing one [Star Wars movie] now that I will hopefully do next year for him. I look forward it. It will round out a series of nine, that will be quite enough for me.”

I read it here.

19. February 2015 · Comments Off on John Williams’s Oboe Concerto · Categories: Composers

In celebration of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams’s 81st birthday on February 8, 2013, the Boston Pops is releasing a new live recording of the composer’s Oboe Concerto. Written for principal Pops oboist Keisuke Wakao, the Oboe Concerto is the latest John Williams work to showcase the talented musicians of the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. The recording took place during the world premiere performance of the work at a Boston Pops concert at Symphony Hall on May 25, 2011.
Release: 1/29/2013
Duration: 00:18:34
Genre: Classical – Live Performance
Label: BSO Classics

Just go here to purchase the recording.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off on Works for Oboe by Kerry Lewis · Categories: Composers, Listen, Videos

In case you aren’t familiar with him, Kerry Lewis is a composer in our area and he’s written some wonderful pieces for oboe and piano. Here are some samples with the fantastic Michael Adduci on oboe. Both works are available through Trevco.

Suite: 1. At Play 2. At Rest 3. Intermezzo 4. Rondo

Here’s the second movement in its complete form (but including a bit of noise, as it’s a live recording). It’s lovely and works quite well on its own!
At Rest from Oboe Suite

Elegy for Oboe

01. July 2014 · Comments Off on Sandy Schubert · Categories: Composers, Videos

From the YouTube page:
As part of the 2014 East Neuk classical music festival in Scotland, Sand in Your Eye created a sand drawing portrait of the composer Franz Schubert. The film was captured on a Go Pro 3 camera on a DJI Phantom Quadcopter.

12. November 2013 · Comments Off on John Tavener 1944-2013 · Categories: Composers, Losses

I just read of Sir John Tavener’s death.

… even though I’d not heard of you before!
(Wikipedia entry)

This is the German Brass (2009 posting)

24. October 2011 · Comments Off on What Were You Doing When You Were Nine Years Old? · Categories: Composers, Videos

The Orchestra of the Principality of Asturias plays works conceived, composed and orchestrated by 9 year-old Asturian composers (plus one from NYC). This concert was given in Mieres, Asturias, SPAIN May 27, 2011, with Daniel Sanchez, guest conductor.

I’d love to know more about the young composers. Are they taking lessons? Did they write out all of the parts? How much help did they receive? So far I’ve not found more about this anywhere, but it’s interesting to hear. No, the music isn’t going to necessarily last … but what were you doing when you were nine years old?

… at least this one must be making ’em. $48 milion? Yikes!

The Plaza Hotel has hit a high note.

A Russian composer has just closed on a $48 million home at the Plaza — the highest price ever paid for a single condo unit in New York.

The buyer is Igor Krutoy and his wife Olga.

The 6,000-square-foot unit in the swanky, historic hotel is on the 12th floor. While it has sweeping views of Central Park, it is not even a full-floor unit.

Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Lisa Simonsen, who brokered the deal, declined to comment.

Sources told the Post that Krutoy was willing to shell out the big bucks because he was tired of losing out. Krutoy had previously lost other apartments he was interested in buying at fancy 15 Central Park West and the Time Warner Center by bidding too low.

RTWT

One does need a lot of square footage in order to write music, I’m sure. Sorry he didn’t get a full-floor unit, though. Sad.

I’d not heard of him before, so I’m guessing maybe one or two of you hadn’t either. So here, let me share …

Want another?