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30/03/2015

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War Composers - the music of World War I

Welcome to WarComposers.co.uk, a site dedicated to retelling the stories of the generation of classical
composers who fought in World War I.
We quite rightly hear a lot about the war poets of World War I, but less well known are the war
composers. Almost a whole generation of young composers volunteered to fight in the Great War, many
whom did not survive or were permanently affected by that conflict.

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The site launched in August 2013 and at first is concentrating on individual biographies of the composers
who fought in World War 1.

What's new?
As of December 2014 the latest biographies on the site are about the English poet and composer Ivor
Gurney, the pianist and composer William Baines and the Belgian composer Georges Antoine . Also new are
downloadable examples of lesser-known compositions by war composers including George Jerrard
Wilkinson ("Suzette"), George Butterworth ("On Christmas Night") and Francis Purcell Warren ("Ave
Verum").
Elsewhere on the site are a selection of links to other sites or WWI-related initiatives that readers may be
interested in. A War Composers blog which will feature discussions, digressions and questions is also being
trialled.

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/index.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I

Composers
Click to view biographies, images and examples of their work.

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Georges Antoine
(1890-1918)

William Baines
(1899-1922)

Arthur Bliss
(1891-1975)

George Butterworth
(1885-1916)

Cecil Coles
(1888-1918)

W Denis Browne
(18881915)

Ernest Farrar
(1885-1918)

Ivor Gurney
(1890-1937)

Fernand Halphen
(1872-1917)

Francis Maurice
Jephson
(1886-1917)

Frederick Kelly
(1881-1916)

William B Manson
(1896-1916)

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/composers.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I

E.J. Moeran
(1894-1950)

Rudi Stephan
(1887-1915)

Ralph Vaughan
Williams
(1872-1958)

Francis Purcell
Warren
(1895-1916)

George J. Wilkinson
(1885-1916)

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/composers.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Georges Antoine

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Georges Antoine

About

April 28, 1892 15 November 1918

Composers

Georges Antoine was a promising young Belgian composer and pianist, who lived
just long enough to see the Armistice, but then succumbed to an illness assumed to
have been caused by the damp conditions he had encountered fighting in the
Trenches in the first period of the conflict.

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Born in Lige on April 28, 1892, he had a musical upbringing; his father Eugene was
choirmaster of Lige Cathedral and was in charge of the majority of local official
music-making. He died when Georges was fifteen and as the eldest child Georges
became the head of his family. By this age, George's talent had already been
recognised, with the composer having commenced his studies at the Royal
Conservatory of Lige aged 10.
His first opus, Sirens, of 1910 was for double chorus for mixed voices followed by Deux Melodies, a Violin
Sonata in A flat, a lost piano concerto plus a handful of songs "In an old style" in the following two years.
As a Belgian, he was involved in the conflict from the outbreak of hostilities in Summer 1914. At the time,
it was widely assumed that the conflict would be over after a few weeks and he wrote to a friend
"nothing in the world would hold me back: Id need a gun, a kitbag and, above all, some bullets...it could
not be said of me that someone who chooses to sing the praises of his country would be capable of not
defending it. This bravado played down the fact that he suffered from chronic asthma.
He was soon involved in many of the early battles on Belgian territory including the seige of Malines and
the defence of Antwerp.
After the Battle of Yser in October 1914, the freezing winter that followed led to Georges catching a
damp-related fever in the trenches, which in the early days of the war were largely improvised with poor
drainage. After this he was hospitalised and after multiple recurrences he was honourably discharged from
the Army.
He settled in Saint-Malo, France giving lessons and concerts throughout 1915-1916 and completed his
Sonata, and songs by poets such as Baudelaire, Corbiere, Klingsor, Samain and Verlaine, gaining maturity in
the period 1917-1918 with works for full orchestra.
In the summer of 1918 as the Allies pushed to win the war, George again rejoined the Belgian army, where
as a librarian to the campaign army he witnessed the liberation of Bruges. However, his return to the army
was ill-advised and he suffered a recurrence of the fever. Doctors diagnosed a serious pulmonary disease.
A telegram to his mother noted that "On November 13...George became aware of his situation but as he
had already suffered so much during the war he did not believe in the seriousness of his illness. In the
evening, about seven o'clock, he died quietly, without agony, speaking of his next return to Lige, his
mother and the Prix de Rome..."
The well-received premiere of his Trio took place a few days later in Amsterdam, with the performers
unaware of its composer's fate.
Bibliography

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Georges Antoine


This biography is largely derived from an article by Philippe Gilson Librarian of Lige Royal Conservatory of Music, and the CD
notes written by Christophe Pirenne (tr. Celia Skrine) for the only major release of his works; Georges Antoine, Quatuor et sonate
(Oxalys, 2014).
Public domain compositions by Georges Antoine can be viewed at the IMSLP website

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of William Baines

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William Baines

About

26 March 1899 - 6 November 1922

Composers

William Baines is likely to be the youngest of the war composers featured on this
site, and for good reason. He had only just turned 18 in 1918 when he was called up
and was undergoing military training at Blandford Camp in Dorset.

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Never a particularly strong child, he had already been assessed three times for his
suitability before it was decided he was fit enough to take on a role as a batman
(personal servant) for an officer in the RAF which he took up on 4 October. It was
the first time he had left his native Yorkshire.
Unfortunately, conditions at the camp were said to be the worst in the country and
the flu epidemic that was spreading across Europe had apparently already broken out at the camp. Within
two weeks he had succumbed to septic poisoning and was hospitalised. By the time he had recovered, the
war was over, and he was demobilized on 24 January 1919 having spent the previous months recuperating.
However, the illness had damaged his already weak health.
Born in Horbury near Wakefield, Yorkshire, he came from a musical family. His father was a cinema pianist
and organist at a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Encouraged by his parents, Baines began piano lessons at a
young age and later had formal lessons at the Yorkshire Training College of Music in Leeds, although his
later compositional style was largely self-taught.
In 1913 the family moved to Cleckheaton and whilst there Baines was able to attend the concerts of the
Bradford Permanent Orchestral Society and acquainted himself with the basic orchestral repertoire. The
family moved to York in 1917 where, aged 18, Baines became a professional musician and gave his first
public piano recital at which a number of his original compositions were heard.
Following his discharge from the military, aware of his precarious existence, Baines entered an
extraordinary period of composition, and by 1922 he had completed roughly 150 works, mostly piano solos,
a high number of which gained publication. He also completed a Symphony in C Minor (first performed in
1991), a Poem for piano and orchestra and a number of chamber works.
Many of his piano works are influenced by the landscape of his home county of Yorkshire. Several were
composed at Nun Appleton House (of Andrew Marvell fame) whose owner Mrs Milner became a patron to
the young composer.
His piano minatures often have descriptive titles; perhaps his best known works are are "Goodnight to
Flamboro'" and "The Lone Wreck" comprising the collection Tides, named after Flamborough Head, the
coastal promontory on the Yorkshire coast. His Seven Preludes from 1919 are amongst his finest
compositions, displaying a virtuosic approach to the instrument. He continued to compose and give
recitals, although his only major recital outside of Yorkshire was in Bournemouth at the invitation of the
conductor Sir Dan Godfrey in 1921.
Baines' health had been steadily deteriorating since his illness in 1918. He died of tuberculosis aged 23.
Robert Weedon, December 2014

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of William Baines

Bibliography
This biography incorporates material I posted in 2011 on Wikipedia under the GDFL licence. The current article can be viewed
here.
John French, "How Quiet and Calm it Will be at Flamboro' today." - A visit to Flamborough Head with William Baines, MusicWeb
International
William Baines Collection William Baines Collection at the British Library website.
William Baines Googlesite

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of W Denis Browne

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William Denis Browne

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3 November 1888 4 June 1915

Composers

William Denis Browne's name will forever be associated with the Apollonian figure
of Rupert Brooke. It was Denis Browne who accompanied Brooke on the ill-fated
WWI expedition to the Dardanelles in February 1915 and it is his poetic description
of Brookes death and burial that has to a certain extent mythologised the poet.

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Denis Browne's death in battle at Gallipoli six weeks later was somewhat less
picturesque. Having seen the public reaction to Brooke's death, Denis Brown's
musical executors were concerned that as the first composer to die in the war he
would be similarly sentimentalised. As a result of this, his legacy was hidden from
view until the war was over, and before then on the composer's own instructions
only a handful of works were retained.
Although because of their close friendship it is easy to only associate Browne with Rupert Brooke, this is a
disservice, for he was the composer of To Gratiana Dancing and Singing, a setting of a poem by Richard
Lovelace often considered the high point of English song of this period.
None of his surviving songs are alike, and all are attractive in their own ways, displaying a range of talents
in word setting and harmonic inventiveness - from the playful yet deceptive simplicity of 'Diaphenia' to
the ghostly, impressionistic 'Arabia', his last complete work dating from 1914. He also left some choral
works of varying quality and attractive lighter music for smaller orchestras, including a one act ballet, The
Comic Spirit, which was performed in 1914 but is now partially lost.
Having surveyed his surviving works (and there are few), one is inclined to say that he was perhaps the
most forward-looking of the War Composers, and whereas many of his fellow pre-war composers were
writing in the Edwardian, Germanic style taught at the RCM, Denis Browne's finest songs still feel fresh,
inventive, and above all different. They feature unexpected and pleasing harmonies, lyrical word setting
and interesting changes of meter that display influence more from the impressionist music of France,
Russian ballets and the dances of the English Renaissance than the German High Romantic music in vogue at
the time.

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Read about William Denis Browne's life

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/browne.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. Arthur Bliss's war

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Arthur Bliss

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2 August 1891 27 March 1975

Composers

Although the war had been over for more than ten years, I was still troubled by frequent nightmares; they

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signed, but we had been forgotten; so had a section of the Germans opposite. It was as though we were

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all took the same form. I was still there in the trenches with a few men; we knew the armistice had been
both doomed to fight on till extinction. I used to wake with horror.

So wrote Sir Arthur Bliss in his autobiography As I Remember (1970, p.96)


explaining the motivations behind composing his choral symphony Morning Heroes
of 1930, a work of great passion and solemnity, but also one which addresses the
impetus that he and his generation felt to fight in World War I.
Bliss served with distinction in that conflict; although physically he survived
relatively unscathed, his autobiography details some horrific experiences. He was
injured at the Somme in 1916 and gassed at Cambrai 1918. He also lost a brother,
Kennard, and many friends and fellow officers. Bliss's war as remembered in his
diaries and letters is not a glamorous one (as few true accounts are), but gives a
frank impression of a young man comprehending the unrelenting difficulties with a weary logic and
resillience.
In spite of, or perhaps because of the war, Bliss became an innovator in his post-war compositions, which
initially led to him apparently being considered as something of an enfant terrible to conservative
concert-goers. Straight after being demobbed in 1919, he started a-fresh, surpressing the majority of his
pre-war work (with the exception of his Pastoral for clarinet and piano of 1916, possibly due to its
connection with Kennard, who was a talented clarinetist).
As Hugh Ottaway notes, Arthur's development as a composer had been delayed by four years, and by the
time the war was over he was nearer 30, but perhaps as a result the 1920s were an extraordinary prolific
one for the composer. Andrew Burn notes:
His abhorrence of time-wasting was a further result of his war years. He knew how fortunate he was to
have survived, and was determined not to lose a moment's opportunityas witnessed by contemporary
descriptions of him immediately after the war which portray a forthright young man bursting with energy
and purpose. (ODNB)

Bliss established himself writing unusual works for chamber ensembles such as Madame Noy (1918), a comic
"witchery song" which he considered his opus 1, and Rout (1920), which features a female solo line made
up of nonsense syllables. Even his more traditionally-scored Colour Symphony for the Three Choirs Festival
in 1922 was considered "disconcertingly modern" by Elgar, despite Bliss's evident desire for the older
composer's approval; Bliss had carried a pocket score of the Cockaigne Overture with "good luck"
inscribed by Elgar with him to the Front.
Although Bliss was briefly schooled in composition at the RCM prior to the war, the style of music he
produced afterwards continued the ideals he learnt at Cambridge from Edward Dent, and he looked as
much to French and Russian composers (especially Stravinsky) as German Romantic music for inspiration.
Perhaps the closest in style pre-war was his fellow Rugby School and Cambridge attendee, William Denis
Browne, who was killed in action in 1915. Given Bliss's later penchant for staged dance music, perhaps the
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War Composers - the music of World War I. Arthur Bliss's war

comparison is a pertinent one.


Arthur Bliss became widely respected, especially as a composer of orchestral works; after a substantial
revision of the Colour Symphony, his Morning Heroes (essentially a second symphony), with its mixture of
Classical texts and war poetry can be seen as a prototype of what Benjamin Britten achieved with his
much later War Requiem (1960).
Bliss's three ballet scores for Sadler's Wells Checkmate (1937), Miracle in the Gorbals (1944) and Adam
Zero (1946) are also particularly fine. Although his music became less fashionable and arguably more tonally
conservative after World War II, he took over the mantle of Ralph Vaughan Williams as a sort-of father
figure of British music, being knighted and becoming Master of the Queen's Music, a post he held with
distinction from 1953 to his death in 1975.
Amongst the war composers, Bliss is important, not only as a figure spanning 20th century British music, but
one that offers a yardstick for many of the composers who died in that conflict. Bliss freely admitted that
few of his pre-WW1 compositions were of any quality (indeed, he later withdrew almost all of them), and
his post-war success and standing gives hints as to what some of the other war composers may have
become.
Robert Weedon, March 2014

Bibliography
Sir Arthur Bliss can be heard in a 1972 edition of Desert Island Discs
Bliss, Sir Arthur, As I Remember (London: Thames Publishing, 1989).
Bliss, Sir Arthur, Bliss on Music, ed. Gregory Roscow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).
Burn, Andrew, Arthur Bliss: From Rebel to Romantic, Musical Times, Vol. 132, No. 1782, (August 1991), 383-386.
Burn, Andrew, Bliss, Sir Arthur Edward Drummond (18911975), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004)
Burn, Andrew, "'Now, Trumpeter for Thy Close': The Symphony Morning Heroes: Bliss's Requiem for His Brother" Musical Times,
Vol. 126, No. 1713 (Nov., 1985), pp. 666-668
Craggs, Stewart R., Arthur Bliss: A Source Book (Aldershot: Scholar Press, 1996).
Evans, Edwin, Arthur Bliss (concluded), Musical Times, Vol. 64, No. 960, (Feb. 1, 1923), 95-99.
Ottaway, Hugh, CD notes for Morning Heroes, EMI5 05909 2 (1983)
Palmer, Christopher, Aspect of Bliss Musical Times, Vol. 112, No. 1542 (August 1971), 743-745.
Robertson, Alec, Arthur Bliss in British Music of Our Time, ed. A.L. Bacharach (London: Penguin Books, 1951).

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War Composers - the music of World War I

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George Butterworth

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12 July 1885 - 5 August 1916

Composers

George Butterworth is probably the best-known of the war composers, held up as emblematic of the lost
talent of his generation. A keen folk dancer and cricketer, Butterworth and his music seem the very model
of a particular type of Englishman.

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Relentlessly self critical, Butterworth regrettably destroyed the majority of his


early compositions in 1915 before leaving for the Front, leaving four completed
orchestral works, plus a tantalising fragment of a longer orchestral fantasia, his
eleven song settings of A.E. Housman, a still unrecorded string quartet and a
handful of other songs and choral pieces, all dating from the period 1910-14.
Several of his works remain in the repertoire. The justly famous orchestral
pastorale The Banks of Green Willow of 1913 is a staple of the English music
canon. With genuine mass appeal, a century after its premiere the public voted
it 80th in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
Gerald Finzi wrote in 1922 that Butterworths music 'sums up our countryside as very little else has ever
done'. Indeed the silver thread of the first English folksong revival is woven throughout his music, the
clarity of his melodies and folksong modality still sounding fresh to the ear; no composer since has made a
solo clarinet seem so redolent of an Arcadian English summer of oversaturated green and golden sunlight.
Later works such as his rhapsody A Shropshire Lad display a darker, more uncertain tone and the fragments
of an unfinished fantasy for orchestra give hints that this is the direction his music would have taken.

Resources
Read about George Butterworth's life
George Butterworth's carol arrangement 'On Christmas Night'

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/butterworth.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Cecil Coles

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Cecil Coles

About

7 October 1888 26 April 1918

Composers

At Christmas 1917, Gustav Holst received a manuscript The first page of Cecil Coles' 'Cortege', circa 1918
score splashed with bloodstains and muddy
watermarks. This was the third movement, Cortege, of an intended four movement suite Behind the
Lines written by a young Scottish composer whom Holst had taken under his wing while he was a tutor at
Morley College in London.

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By the following April, its composer Cecil F G Coles was dead, wounded while attempting to rescue
casualties from a wood near the Somme on 26th April 1918.
Other than a prominent dedication on Holsts Ode to Death, Cecil Coles remained virtually unknown until
2002. His revival that year was due to the intervention of his daughter Catherine Coles whose research
into her father, about whom she knew very little until the last years of her life, brought to light 40 piano,
vocal and orchestral pieces stored in a cardboard box at George Watson school in Edinburgh.
Consequently, there is very little written about him, with the majority of biographies, as with this one,
derived from the research of Catherine Coles, his biographer John Purser, the conductor Martyn Brabbins
and the musicologist Professor Jeremy Dibble in their work to revive his orchestral works for release on a
CD on the Hyperion label in 2002. He has since gained some exposure after being featured at the BBC
Proms in 2003 and Cortege was used as the title theme to the Channel 4 documentary series The First
World War.
Like many of the composers featured on this site, Coles is very much a what if? whose talent was not
given the chance to mature, but listening to those works now, it seems surprising that his music languished
in obscurity for so long. Some pieces such as his Four Settings of Poems by Verlaine have an attractive
light operatic quality, evidence of his time working in the Stuttgart opera, others such as Fra Giacomo,
regarded as his masterpiece, are more serious in tone and heavily influenced by the Late Romantic music
of Germany. However, it is probably 'Cortege', a funeral elegy written in the midst of the war by a
composer who was to die in that conflict that is the most evocative of his works.

Resources
Read about Cecil Coles' life and legacy

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/coles.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Frederick Kelly

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Frederick Septimus Kelly

About

29 May 1881 13 November 1916

Composers

Frederick Septimus Kelly is one of the most enigmatic of the War Composers. An
Australian by birth, he was probably more famous in his day as a rower than a
composer; he won gold with the men's 'Eight' in the 1908 London Olympics and was
said to have a grace and ability on the water that no other oarsman of his
generation could match.

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A talented pianist, he was carving an unusual dual career as a musician and


sportsman. The two sometimes overlapped, as heard in his raucous early cricket
song Eton and Winchester. In terms of his compositions, he is largely agreed to
have been a late starter in terms of gaining a unique voice; reviews of his
published works usually state that they are competent but unremarkable, although recordings of his works
remain scarce and some works are still in manuscript in Australia.
In common with many of the War Composers his music was neglected during the 20th century, although a
large project by the National Library of Australia in 2004 led to a rediscovery of his work including a very
complete set of personal diaries from 1907-1915 which reveal his friendships and connections to the great
and good of the day.
Today he is best remembered as one of the participants in the ill-fated Hood Battalion which set sail on
the Grantully Castle with an extraordinary band of noteworthy young men including the poet Rupert
Brooke and the composer William Denis Browne amongst others. Unusually, like Cecil Coles, Kelly
continued to compose music even after enlisting, for example writing an Elegy for strings and harp to
commemorate Brookes burial on the Isle of Skyros early in the voyage. That battalion ended up at
Gallipoli where he won a DSC in January 1916 during the Gallipoli evacuation. He was promoted to
lieutenant-commander, but posted to the Somme where a bullet claimed his life in November of that year.

Resources
Read about Frederick Kelly's life

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/kelly.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Frank Maurice Jephson

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Frank Maurice Jephson

About

1886 to 20 April 1917

Composers

Frank Maurice Jephson (1886 to 20 April 1917), referred to as F. Maurice Jephson on his compositions, was
an organist and composer, whose principal published output mainly consists of piano music, with some
music for organs and choirs.

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Regrettably, there is little biographical detail available, but an obituary was published in the Musical Times
in 1917 which gives us a few snippets of his life.
Born in Derby to Mr T and Mrs E Jephson, he gained the Associate Diploma of the Royal College of
Organists (ARCO) and by age 16 he was assistant organist at Westbourne Park Church in Derby, later moving
to London to becoming organist of the Presbyterian Church, Richmond in 1904. It is unclear if he was
himself a Presbyterian. He was married and lived at an address near Kew Gardens, London.
He was also accompanist of the Arundel Male-Voice Choir, with various references to this role surviving in
the Musical Times of the 1910s. It was most likely for this ensemble that he composed a male voice setting
of John Donne "Send back my long stray'd eyes to me" (published 1930) and an arrangement for men's
voices and orchestra of "The Arethusa" (1916, credited on the score to William Shield, although now
considered to by an earlier anonymous composer) which is still available in the Novello back catalogue.
Probably the most interesting reference in his obituary is mention of his day job; "For some time he was
associated in business with Dr. Charles Vincent, and recently he held a responsible position in the
Orchestrelle Company."
The Orchestrelle Company (also known as the Aeolian Company) were a New York-based firm which sold
musical instruments, and were particularly famous for selling pianolas, self-playing pianos, which usually
took the form of an upright piano with an apparatus inside which played the keys from grid pattern on a
paper roll, here demonstrated on YouTube (not one of his compositions):

These were popular novelty items around the turn of the century, offering a "live" performance of piano
music inside the home of far superior quality to recordings then available on gramophones or phonograph
machines. In 1903 the Orchestrelle Company purchased the loss-making Grosvenor Gallery in New Bond
Street and renamed it the Aeolian Hall. This housed the firm's offices, showroom, and a concert hall, and
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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Frank Maurice Jephson

one assumes that Frank worked at this place in some capacity, either as a salesman, demonstrator or
perhaps even as a transcriber/arranger of music for the piano rolls.
The company continued until well into the 1920s when pianolas went out of fashion, with the Hall
becoming a popular Central London venue. During the Second World War the hall (which still exists today)
was taken over by the BBC and used as a regular venue for broadcasting concerts and recitals up until 1975.
Frank's compositional output seems to date largely from the period 1911-1913, possibly as a result of his
acquaintance with Dr Vincent, who also published pieces for piano and organ, although his widow
evidently continued to submit his pieces for publication well into the 1920s and 1930s - his John Donne
setting for choir was only published in 1930.
A recording of his organ work "Gaudeamus" played by Dr James Garratt of Manchester University has
recently been made available on YouTube:

Midi files of two of his organ works are also available at the Bardic Music website, the sound of which
suggests his music for his own instrument was in a typically late Victorian/Edwardian idiom. Other than the
more sober-sounding organ works, the titles of his works suggest his piano music was in a ligher, popular
vein; perhaps even suitable for the instruments he sold.
Frank joined the 1st/5th Bn. London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) and held the rank of Rifleman. He
died of wounds sustained in action, possibly at the Battle of Arras, in a base hospital at Etaples on 20th
April 1917 and was buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
Bibliography
I regret that I have been unable to source a photograph of Frank Maurice Jephson for this article.
Obituary: Frank Maurice Jephson in The Musical Times, Vol. 58, No. 892 (Jun. 1, 1917), pp. 263-264
Review: "The Arethusa by W. Shield; Frank M. Jephson" in The Musical Times, Vol. 57, No. 877 (Mar. 1, 1916), p. 151
Rifleman F.M. Jephson, Find a Grave
Rifleman F.M. Jephson, Roll of Honour

List of catalogued works


Below is a list of works held by the British Library, which (except where noted) are for piano and were published by the London
firm Joseph Williams.
Arabesque (1913)
Autumn "romance for piano" (1912)
Brownies: two short pieces for the piano (1924)
A Country Dance/A Woodland Dance (1927)
Danse Humoresque (1913)
"Dear golden Days" a song with words by P. J. O'Reilly (London: Novello & Co, 1918)

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Frank Maurice Jephson
Five Pieces for Piano (1911)
Gaudeamus, for organ (London: The Organ Loft, 1911)
Hunting Song (1911)
Idyll (1912)
Impromptu (1911),
Marionettes "A Characteristic Sketch for the Piano" (1912)
Melody (1911)
"My Scotch Lassie" song with words by F. G. Bowles (J. Williams, 1914)
On the Hill-side (1917)
Postlude in C minor for Organ (reprinted by Bardic Music, 2002)
"Send back my long stray'd eyes to me" for male voice choir (TTBB) words by John Donne (Joseph Williams, c1930.)
Six Easy Pieces (On the Hillside, The Tin Soldier, Minuet, The Irish Piper, A Country Dance, Harlequin) (1914)
Two Little Waltzes (Joseph Williams, c1924)
Waltz in C (1911)

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/jephson.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Willie B Manson

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Willie B Manson

About

1 July 1896 - 1 July 1916

Composers

William Braithwaite Manson (1 July 1886 to 1 July 1916), mostly referred to as


Willie B Manson, was a promising composition student at the Royal Academy of
Music. Born at Dunedin on the south island of New Zealand, he became a chorister
at the Chapel Royal at St James Palace, London from at least 1906; several
photographs of the young Willie in various outlandish ceremonial robes exist in the
RAM archive.

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By 1912 he had joined the Royal Academy of Music where he studied composition
under Harry Farjeon. Manson was evidently a high achiever. His Musical Times
obituary notes:
After only four terms he was appointed sub-professor of year's work he gained three
silver medals, the Oliveria Prescott prize, and the Charles Lucas silver medal for composition, which is
looked upon as the 'blue riband' of the Academy, and later he won the Battison Haynes prize for
composition.

Regrettably, the available published obituaries of Manson tell us nothing of his character, but simply note
this long list of prizes, although Harry Farjeon's tribute to him was published in the RAM Club magazine in
1916.
He joined the London Scottish Regiment as a private in January 1916 and served on the Western Front
from May. He was killed on his birthday in July that year, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
A Pianoforte Trio is mentioned as having been performed at an RAM concert in his memory in November
1916, but if at all he is known for his two published song collections Songs of Love and Youth which sets
the poems Love! What wilt thou with this heart of mine? and Hence, Away Begone by Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow and A Birthday by Christine Rossetti and Three Poems from A Shropshire Lad;
Think no more, lad, When I came last to Ludlow and Loveliest of Trees. Both were published
posthumously in 1919 and 1920 respectively.
His composition tutor Harry Farjeon dedicated his Piano Sonata to his memory. His parents gave money to
the RAM to create a new music ensemble, and the Manson Ensemble continues to this day. The Academy's
Manson music recording studio is also named in his honour.
Bibliography
Obituary: Willie B. Manson in The Musical Times, Vol. 57, No. 883 (Sep. 1, 1916), p. 410
Obituary: Willie Braithwaite Manson, The Musical Times, Vol. 58, No. 888 (Feb. 1, 1917), pp. 68-69
A collection of photographs and memorabilia related to the composer are viewable on the RAM museum website.

Discography
Two of his Songs of Love and Youth performed by Walter Widdop are available as very old 78 recording transfers on the
Symposium CD An Anthology of Song, Vol. 2: 1903-1935 (SYMP1357)

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/manson.html

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. Ernest John Moeran's war

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Ernest John Moeran

About

31 December 1894 1 December 1950

Composers

Ernest John "Jack" Moeran, composer and madrigalist, survived the First World
War, but having lived through the Second, it is often said that the first claimed
him in 1950. While standing on the pier at Kenmare, County Kerry in a storm in
December 1950, he was observed to collapse into the water, and was found to
have suffered a brain haemorrhage. This is sometimes attributed to a head wound
he suffered over thirty years earlier.

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Moeran was one of the finest post-WW1 British composers, the depth and lyricism
of his output perhaps placing him at odds with later trends in music, leaving his
music sadly underappreciated and underheard until relatively recently when a
number of new recordings have brought his works to greater attention.
Moeran's music has a timeless quality. While obviously of the 20th century, he took the sound of the
English folk music revival to its apex with works such as his Symphony in G Minor of 1938 and miniatures
such as Lonely Waters, while also displaying a great influence from the composers of the English
Renaissance through his choral works (his "madrigals") and orchestral pieces such as Whythorne's Shadow
and the Serenade in G. Leading a life which was in many ways troubled and marked by self-doubt, he
found solace in the county of his childhood and his adopted spiritial home in the far South of Ireland.
Characteristically, while Moeran's experience of WWI was largely unspoken during his life, subsequent
biographers view the war as indelibly colouring his work; his biographer Geoffrey Self views the
Symphony as his "war requiem", and one cannot fail to hear a certain desolation in that unsettling yet
deeply beautiful work, the passages of great lyricism frequently interrupted by drums and dissonant brass.

Resources
E.J. Moeran's war

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/moeran.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Rudi Stephan

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Rudi Stephan

About

29 July 1887 29 September 1915

Composers

Rudi Stephan was perhaps the most famous German composer killed in World War
1. His death at the Eastern Front in 1915 deprived Germany of the leading member
of the informal Jungdeutsch movement of proto-Modernist composers influenced
both by the late-Romantic music of Richard Strauss and the Impressionism of
Debussy, but also the more Modernist music being premiered in the pre-war period
by composers such as Alban Berg and Igor Stravinsky.

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Born in the city of Worms, Rhineland in 1887, his musical studies were encouraged
by his parents; he was taught music from an early age and his father, a respected
lawyer, sat on the boards of several arts festivals, meaning that the young Rudi was
exposed to a wide range of cultural experiences in his youth.
In 1905 Rudi persuaded his parents to allow him to study music at a conservatoire. He first attended the
Frankfurt Hochschule (1905), but left there in 1906 to study in Munich. Although taught by several
respected teachers, Juliane Brand suggests that he appeared to shun formal composition study and follow
his own instincts.
Early works tended to be song settings and works for chamber forces, but from 1908-9 onwards, his works
were conceived on a larger scale; there followed a one-act opera Vater und Sohn (Father and Son), a
ballad for tenor and orchestra called Liebeszauber (Lovespell) and the first of his pieces titled Musik fr
Orchester (1910). His father financed a public performance of his works in January 1911, hiring the Munich
Konzertverein orchestra. The performance was not said to have been a complete success, but brought his
name to a greater audience and focussed his mind.
Maturer works
Despite an apparent daliance in watercolour landscape painting in his youth, his later works for larger
ensembles especially were explicitly un-programmatic. His adherence to absolute music went as far as
writing a note on his Opus 1 explaining to his publisher that it should have "no poetic title, not the
designation tone poem, nothing".
His subsequent orchestral compositions have austere titles such as Music for Seven String Instruments and
Music for Orchestra. Somewhat confusingly, there are two surviving compositions called Musik fr
Orchester, usually distinguished by the date of performance; 1910 and 1912 respectively. Of these, the
second (below) is the better-known, and a piece that benefits from multiple listenings, which bring to the
fore the composer's skillful manipulation of the opening thematic material, for example.

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/stephan.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Rudi Stephan

His greatest achievement is probably his two act opera Die ersten Menschen (The First Man), an
expressionist post-Wagnerian stage work based on an 'erotic mystery' by Otto Borngrber. Rudi had begun
work on the opera in 1911 and was preparing for a premiere performance in 1914 when the war prevented
the production. He apparently regarded the majority of his early works as training for it.
The work must have been considered decidedly controversial at the time; it casts the Biblical story of
Cain and Abel along Freudian lines; the role of Eve is apparently played as a "virtual nymphomaniac",
whose advances are shunned by Adam and the fratricide of Cain portrayed as oedipal jealousy. In its 1920
production, all four characters wore only simple bearskin costumes.
Rudi never saw his opera produced, however. In March 1915 he was called up for active service, and by
September of that year he had been posted to Tarnopol, Galicia on the Eastern Front (now part of
Ukraine). He was shot through the head by a Russian sniper two days after arriving at the front. He was 28.
Legacy
It is perhaps illustrative of the respect for the composer that a number of his compositions were
posthumously published, and his loss was said to be particularly felt in his home city; the Gymnasium
(grammar school) he attended in his youth was renamed in his honour.
His friend, the critic Karl Holl (1892-1972) edited and published the majority of Stephan's scores, also
writing a short monograph on the composer in 1920 which is the principal biographical source for many
details of Rudi's life. Stephan's opera Die ersten Menschen was given its premiere in Frankfurt in 1920.
Akin to several Allied composers killed in World War 1, there was a feeling that Germany had lost one of
its leading young composers. However, after the fall of the Weimar Republic and the political turmoil of
the 1920s and 30s, Stephan's works were neglected.
Regrettably, his legacy cannot be fully assessed. The majority of his manuscripts and fragments of worksin-progress were destroyed in Allied bombing of Worms City Archive in 1945.
Bibliography
Robert Blackburn, "Rudi Stephan: An Unfulfilled Talent?" in The Musical Times, Vol. 128, No. 1733 (Jul., 1987), pp. 375-378
Juliane Brand. "Stephan, Rudi." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.
Christopher Hailey, Review of 'Musik fr...': Untersuchungen zum Werk Rudi Stephans by Hartwig Lehr, Music & Letters, Vol. 79,
No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 135-137
Gordon Kerry, CD notes for Music for Orchestra, (Colchester: Chandos Records 2006), CHAN 5040.
The 1913 Schott publication of Music for Orchestra is available to view on the IMSLP website.

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/stephan.html

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of George Jerrard Wilkinson

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George Jerrard Wilkinson

About

16 August 1885 - 1 July 1916

Composers

George Jerrard Wilkinson was a composer and folk dancer. A friend of George
Butterworth, Wilkinson was one of the main players in the foundation of the
English Folk Dance Society alongside Cecil Sharp and also a composer of art songs in
the English tradition.

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He was born in Edgebaston, Birmingham in 1885. According to Georgina Boyes'


article about Wilkinson, his father was a member of the clergy at St. Johns
Church, Ladywood, Birmingham while his mother was the daughter of the Bishop
of Brisbane. He attended Uppingham School in Rutland and gained a scholarship to
Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where studies in music led him to form a
friendship with Cecil Sharp, and by age 19 he was already assisting Sharp in arranging country dance tunes.
It is likely some of the familiar published folk dance arrangements for piano or strings credited to Sharp
may have had input from Wilkinson. According to an article published in the English Folk Dance Society
News in 1924 by Mrs Helen Wilkinson (one of the dancers in the Kinora film on this site's Butterworth
article):
His arrangements of some of Mr. Sharps folk-songs with pianoforte and string accompaniments are probably
known to a good many readers. He was able to devote a good deal of his time to teaching folk-dancing, and
he inspired people in many places who still keep up the dancing to this day. His dancing was a lesson in
perfect finish and accuracy.

By the age of 25 in the April 1911 census he was boarding in Wandsworth, London, where his occupation
was listed as "teacher of music". This perhaps corresponds with his employment as a music teacher at the
Caius Mission House in Battersea, a educational college sponsored by the Cambridge College.
He became part of Sharp's folk dance demonstration side alongside fellow English folk dance enthusiasts
and was evidently instrumental in the founding of the English Folk Dance Society, serving on its first
executive committee. In this picture from 1911 we see left to right Douglas Kennedy, George Butterworth,
James Patterson, Perceval Lucas, A. Claud Wright and George Wilkinson.

As well as his work with the Caius Mission and English Folk Dance Society, he taught music at Northaw
Place School near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire between 1912-1914. Throught the dance team, he became
close to Helen Dorothy Kennedy, sister of Douglas Kennedy, one of the other dancers. Georgina Boyes
uncovered a story in her 2012 article about George (or "Wilkie" as his friends evidently knew him)
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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of George Jerrard Wilkinson

purchasing a motorbike & sidecar and teaching Helen to ride it around Battersea Park, on one occasion
nearly ending in disaster when she had not been shown how to brake properly. The couple later toured
around the Midlands with the motorbike, but it is not thought they became engaged before the war broke
out.
George joined the Schools Battalion Artists Rifles in December 1914. He became a sergeant in the 16th
Middlesex Regiment which was a signalling battalion. There is a web posting of a unique scrapbook by a
member of the regiment which features a pencil sketch of the composer drawn while the battalion was
marching through France, presumably on its way to the Front.
Comparing it with the morris side photograph is undoubtedly the same man, and probably the last record
of him. Tasked with storming Hawthorn Redoubt on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the
Somme, his battalion suffered heavy casualties. He was killed that day at Beaumont Hamel and is
commemorated on the Thiepval monument.
Works
In terms of original compositions, no works have been recorded but some were published, mostly in 1916,
which implies they were published posthumously.
Titles currently listed by the British Library are the Choric Song from Tennysons Lotos Eaters (1916) a
fairly substantial composition being scored for baritone solo, male chorus and orchestra, Four Songs about
Children for voice and piano (1916), Nine Songs and Duets (1913), which are settings of various Japanese
poems, and "Suzette" a song with words by Elizabeth B. Piercy (1916), the latter which Stephen Banfield
writes is 'worth reviving for its Edwardian charm' (Sensibility and English Song, 134).
A transcription of "Suzette" may be viewed here.
On the basis of the Choric Song he was evidently able to write for larger forces than just piano, although
the orchestral parts are presumably lost. Did he write any other music that was considered uncommercial
to publish and if so, where is it now?
Bibliography
Thank you to the staff of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and Anthony Whitaker of the Old Northavian Association Website
for their assistance with some details about George Wilkinson's life.
Banfield, Stephen, Sensibility and English Song (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
Breeze, Jo, "The Morris at War" in Roots, June 2014, No 372, pp. 40-41, 73.
Boyes, Georgina, Unsung Hero: George Jerrard Wilkinson A Beautiful Accurate Dancer in English Dance & Song Autumn 2012,
Vol. 74 Issue 3, p. 20
Karpeles, Maud, Cecil Sharp: his life and work (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967)
Wilkinson, Helen, "Early Days" in English Folk Dance Society News in May 1924, pp. 172-177 and May 1925, pp. 277-28.

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/wilkinson.html

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Francis Purcell Warren

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Francis Purcell Warren

About

29 May 1895 - circa 3 July 1916

Composers

Francis Purcell Warren died so young, aged 21, that any assessment of his abilities can only be made on the
basis of a very small number of early works and the esteem that his contemporaries held him in.

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Life
F Purcell Warren (as his published works usually credit him) was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire on
May 29, 1895, the son of a local musician and conductor, Walter Warren. He was educated at Beech Lawn
School, Leamington, and West House School, Edgbaston. As a student, according to Thomas F. Dunhill he
had some works intended for use in Roman Catholic worship published while still at school; certainly his
Ave Verum and Benediction Service were in print by 1912.
In March, 1910, he obtained a scholarship to study violin at the Royal College of Music with a secondary
study of piano, although it appears that he later gravitated towards the viola, at which he showed a
particular talent.
While at the RCM, he became a firm friend of Herbert Howells and it is through Howells that his name is
mostly remembered. Warren was one of The Bs in Howells early orchestral work (Op.13) of
October/November 1914 which celebrated some of the composers close friends; Purcell Warren qualified
as a consequence of his inevitable nickname Bunny.
It appears that although Bunny was not officially a composition student, his friends managed to get a
piece he had completed, Five Short Pieces for Cello and Piano, performed in a college concert and
caught the ear of Sir Hubert Parry, who later reported favourably on his potential as a composer. The very
short pieces were subsequently published.
In September 1914, Bunny enlisted as a private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and went to France
in the following March. Shortly afterwards he returned to England and joined the 10th Battalion of the
South Lancashire Regiment. According to Hubert Parry, he endured bravely some very uncongenial
experiences in the earlier stages of training, which Parry does not expand on, but perhaps hints that he
was not ready for the trauma of fighting in the conflict.
In March 1916 Warren obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant and was posted to France. He was
reported missing at Mons on July 3, 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. His body was not recovered, but
he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Hubert Parry, in his Directors Address to the RCM of 24 September 1917 devoted a large section to
Warren's virtues:
I am afraid there is no longer any hope of young Purcell Warren being alive. He has not been heard of for
months. It is a peculiarly tragic case. He was one of the gentlest, and most refined and sensitive of boys,
and was of that type which attracted people's love. He was a very promising violinist, and had also began to
show characteristic qualities as a composer which were quite surprising, for there was a subtlety and a
dexterity about his compositions which made us look upon him as likely to make a personal mark. He
endured bravely some very uncongenial experiences in the earlier stages of training, and then he had to
face the barbarities, and one of humanity's tenderest possessions was ruthlessly destroyed.

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/warren.html

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Francis Purcell Warren

Works
With the exceptions of the early choral pieces Ave Verum and the Benediction Service of 1912, the
majority of Warren's musical output consists of chamber works for strings or piano.
These include the aforementioned Five Short Pieces for Violoncello first published in 1914, two
movements of which - Sunday Evening in Autumn and Cradle Song - have been recorded by Stephen
Hough and Steven Isserlis on the CD Childrens Cello published on the BIS label in 2006. The other
movements are titled 'An Absent One', 'Waltz' and 'So seems it in my deep regret'.
Works published before or soon after his death include a short Caprice Fantastique for solo piano and an
Adagio for violoncello and piano, the latter published in 1925. The Adagio was his last completed work
before leaving for the Front, and was planned as the slow movement of a Sonata, of which the first
movement also existed in manuscript as an incomplete sketch in the 1920s.
The only other significant work by Warren is a String Quartet in A minor of 1914, of which the final
movement, a pleasant set of Variations on an Original Theme for String Quartet has been published by the
Merton Music Project and is available on the IMSLP website.

Perhaps his greatest legacy was as a friend of Herbert Howells, who commemorated him in an achingly
mournful Elegy for Viola, String Quartet and Strings first performed in a Mons Memorial Concert in the
Royal Albert Hall in 1917. The composer Alan Ridout recounts in his memoirs that:
There is no doubt in my mind that he [Howells] loved Francis Purcell Warren. He had a snapshot of him on
his mantelpiece, standing together with Leon Goossens...Once he stood before the picture gradually
becoming inarticulate with grief. After a long silence he said, He was everything to me and sobbed, then
swiftly pulled himself together.

The Bs was also performed in tribute in 1917 and Howells was later to incorporate some of the melodic
and thematic material from the Bunny movement into Corydons Dance in his Music for a Prince (1949),
where again snippets of solo viola can be heard.
Bibliography
I regret that I have been unable to source a photograph of F Purcell Warren for this article, but will endeavour to find one.
W.R. Anderson, Forgotten Men of English Music in The Listener, Vol 25, No 631, 13 February 1941, p. 245
Thomas F. Dunhill, Francis Purcell Warren in Music & Letters, Vol. 7, No. 4 (October 1926), pp. 357-363
Paul Spicer, Herbert Howells (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press Ltd, 1998), p. 63
Martin John Ward, Analysis of Five Works by Herbert Howells, (University of Birmingham thesis, 2005), Appendix 2b, p. 164

Francis Purcell Warren 'Ave Verum' (1912)

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War Composers - the music of World War I

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Ernest Bristow Farrar

About

7 July 1885 18 September 1918

Composers

Beneath the light-leaved sycamores,

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Still I walk and think of one

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In the blue dusk of spring,


Who went a-soldiering.

The opening of a song called "In Memoriam" by Percy Dixon and set to music by
Harry Gill published in 1941, probably the most explicit tribute amongst four
individual pieces dedicated to the memory of Ernest Bristow Farrar, who was
killed aged 33 at the Somme on the 18th of September 1918, after just two
days at the Front. While perhaps not the greatest poetry ever written, it sums
up something of the feeling amongst the colleagues and friends of the
composer, whose death also inspired significant works by Frank Bridge and
Gerald Finzi.
Farrar has been relatively neglected since 1918, and is now best known as the
first, and arguably most influential teacher of the young Gerald Finzi. Finzi
went on to be one of the most celebrated English composers of the midcentury and the melancholic tone of his works is often attributed to the loss of his friend and teacher.
During Farrar's life, he was considered an up-and-coming composer who had written over 40 opus numbers,
the majority of which were published. Having trained at the Royal College of Music chiefly under Charles
Villiers Stanford (and arguably maintaining more of his teacher's style than some of his contemporaries),
Farrar was equally adept at writing miniatures (with several attractive songs, organ, choral and piano
pieces published) and longer forms; the majority of his orchestral works survive and have been recorded.
While some of his works, especially his choral works have dated badly, his English Pastoral Impressions is
still fresh to the ear and his much darker and atmospheric orchestral Heroic Elegy, performed just weeks
before he went to the Front, stands as a chilling lament for himself and his generation.

Resources
Read about Ernest Farrar's life and legacy

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/farrar.html

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. Introduction to Ivor Gurney

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Ivor Gurney

About

28 August 1890 26 December 1937

Composers

Ivor Gurney was an artist equally and unusually competent as both a poet and
composer. A prolific composer of over 330 songs of varying quality, several are
considered masterpieces of the genre. He also wrote orchestral, instrumental and
choral music, much of which is only slowly emerging from years of obscurity.

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Because of his status as a War Poet, it is through his widely-anthologised and


unusually direct poetry that he is probably best known today. However, he
considered himself to be a composer first and only turned to verse through the
difficulty of composing at the Front. Indeed, he is noteworthy as being one of a
handful of composers to write music while in the trenches, which gives pieces
such as "By a Bierside" a special extra-musical atmosphere.
Gurney was not killed in World War 1, but was invalided out following a gas attack in 1917. In 1922 he was
declared insane and committed to an asylum; he was to remain a patient at various institutions until his
death aged 47. For many years was considered a casualty of the war, but the reality is more complicated Gurney already had a history of mental illness, and it has even been argued that the war held his illness at
bay.
Gurney is not an easy figure to write about since the trajectory of his life, particularly post-WWI is
undoubtedly one which has at its heart a victim of a troubling mental condition which even now is not
fully understood.

Resources
Read an introduction to Ivor Gurney's life

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/gurney.html

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Fernand Halphen

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Fernand Gustave Halphen

About

February 18, 1872 - 16 May 1917

Composers

Fernand Gustave Halphen was a composer, violinist and patron of the arts. Born in
Paris in 1872, he was the youngest of six children from a wealthy Jewish family;
his father was a diamond merchant, his mother the daughter of a banker.

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His mother in particular influenced her son's early interest in the arts; a painting of
Ferdnand was commissioned by no less a figure than Auguste Renoir, today part of
the collection of the Muse d'Orsay, Paris.
When age ten, through Fernand's sister (who was married to a noted patron of the
arts) he was introduced to Gabriel Faur, the pre-eminent French composer of the
late 19th century. It was this early meeting with which was to have the greatest influence on Halphen's
direction in life and the sound of his music. Faur coached the young composer until his entry into the
Conservatoire de Musique in Paris in 1885 where he was taught composition by Ernest Guiraud and later
Jules Massenet.
Although his main focus was on composition, he was also a talented violinist and pianist - on receipt of one
prize for composition in 1898, his father gave him a Stradivarius violin, and many of his chamber works
are for violin and piano.
He married Alice Koenigswarter (1873-1963) in 1899. A chateau, Castle of La Chapelle-en-Serval (Oise),
was built for him in 1909. He had a daughter, Henriette in 1911 and a son, Georges in 1913.
Although aged 42 when war broke out, he volunteered as a captain in the 13th territorial Infantry
Regiment. Owing to his age, he was not posted to the front but given charge of a territorial regiment.
There he founded a military band which he led for three years, writing and arranging music for the band;
military bands played a large role in the drill and rhythm of training and base camps in the war. However,
the conditions were not condusive to Fernand's health and he died of disease at a military hospital in Paris
in May 1917.
During his life, he was a founder member of several trusts to develop music and music education in France,
and following his death his wife created the Halphen Foundation to assist young composers to have their
works performed.
Works
Free of financial concerns, Ferdnand was able to compose without having to find other sources of income.
Thus, his catalogue of work is quite large, numbering over 150 compositions, few of which are performed
today. They include a Symphony in C Minor of 1897, the Sicilian suite for orchestra (1896), a Shakespeareinfluenced one-act opera Le Cor Fleuri ("the ornate horn", although usually translated as "Oberon's Horn"),
performed at the Opra-Comique theatre in May 1904, plus music for a pantomime, a ballet, many songs
and chamber works, as well as examples of choral music.
A detailed list of works can be seen on the Musica et Memoria (fr) website and the score of Le Cor Fleuri
and some of his chamber works are available at the International Music Score Library Project.
Several of his songs have been recorded on CD, and a CD of his piano and chamber music, Fernand

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War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Fernand Halphen

Halphen: Melodies Pieces for Piano & Chamber Music was released on the Buda Musique label (860138) in
2006.
Bibliography
Denis Havard de la Montagne, Musica et Memoria: Fernand Gustave Halphen (Fr.)
"Halphen" in Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 9, ed Fred Skolnik & Michael Berenbaum (Granite Hill Publishers, 2007), 285.
Philipp D'Anchald (ed.) Les Musiciens et la Grande Guerre IV: Mlodies Prescience Conscience (Paris: Editions Hortus, 2014)
Anon. Fernand Gustave Halphen, Programme note for concert in June 2014

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30/03/2015

War Composers - the music of World War I. A biography of Cecil Coles

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Cecil Coles

About

7 October 1888 26 April 1918

Composers

At Christmas 1917, Gustav Holst received a manuscript The first page of Cecil Coles' 'Cortege', circa 1918
score splashed with bloodstains and muddy
watermarks. This was the third movement, Cortege, of an intended four movement suite Behind the
Lines written by a young Scottish composer whom Holst had taken under his wing while he was a tutor at
Morley College in London.

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By the following April, its composer Cecil F G Coles was dead, wounded while attempting to rescue
casualties from a wood near the Somme on 26th April 1918.
Other than a prominent dedication on Holsts Ode to Death, Cecil Coles remained virtually unknown until
2002. His revival that year was due to the intervention of his daughter Catherine Coles whose research
into her father, about whom she knew very little until the last years of her life, brought to light 40 piano,
vocal and orchestral pieces stored in a cardboard box at George Watson school in Edinburgh.
Consequently, there is very little written about him, with the majority of biographies, as with this one,
derived from the research of Catherine Coles, his biographer John Purser, the conductor Martyn Brabbins
and the musicologist Professor Jeremy Dibble in their work to revive his orchestral works for release on a
CD on the Hyperion label in 2002. He has since gained some exposure after being featured at the BBC
Proms in 2003 and Cortege was used as the title theme to the Channel 4 documentary series The First
World War.
Like many of the composers featured on this site, Coles is very much a what if? whose talent was not
given the chance to mature, but listening to those works now, it seems surprising that his music languished
in obscurity for so long. Some pieces such as his Four Settings of Poems by Verlaine have an attractive
light operatic quality, evidence of his time working in the Stuttgart opera, others such as Fra Giacomo,
regarded as his masterpiece, are more serious in tone and heavily influenced by the Late Romantic music
of Germany. However, it is probably 'Cortege', a funeral elegy written in the midst of the war by a
composer who was to die in that conflict that is the most evocative of his works.

Resources
Read about Cecil Coles' life and legacy

http://www.warcomposers.co.uk/coles.html

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