”Something of order and beauty”

Picture taken in rehearsal and used by kind permission.

Colin Riley (@colinjriley) describes himself as a composer of no fixed indoctrination. On 22/6/19 he tweeted a link to the post of 7/3/19 on his blog, Riley Notes, from which I have taken the title above.

On 3rd July, the classical Trio Sonorité performed the premiere, at the church of St John-at-Hampstead, of his short chamber piece Heads on Sticks. Today, as then, Colin Riley is in the audience to hear the Trio perform his piece (and he gets to his feet to take a bow). It’s a delightful, uplifting performance, and I’m glad to be here for this concert in the Summer Series at St Anne’s, Kew.

Özlem Çelik plays the clarinet, Daryl Giuliano the ‘cello, and Jelena Makarova the piano. Their other offerings today are by Max Bruch (1838-1920) and Darius Milhaud (1892-1974).

Max Bruch was the son of Wilhelmine, a singer, and August, a lawyer who became Vice President of the Cologne Police. Professor Breidenstein, a friend of his father’s, gave Max his first music theory lesson.

Bruch’s work placed him in the camp of Romantic classicism exemplified by Brahms, rather than the opposing “New Music” of Liszt and Wagner.

At the height of his career, Bruch spent three seasons (1880-83) as conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. He married Clara Tuczek, a singer whom he met on tour, in Berlin on 3rd January, 1881. They returned to Liverpool and took lodgings in Sefton Park. Their daughter, Margaretha, was born in Liverpool the following year. Clara died on 26th August, 1919, and Max died the following year.

Darius Milhaud, a member of Les Six, is considered one of the key modernist composers. The invasion of France in 1940 forced him to leave with his family, emigrating to the USA. Between 1947 and 1971, Milhaud taught alternate years at Mills College in Oakland, California and at the Paris Conservatoire. Among Milhaud’s most famous students were Dave Brubeck (who named his first son Darius); and Burt Bacharach. Milhaud told Bacharach, “Don’t be afraid of writing something people can remember and whistle. Don’t ever feel discomfited by a melody.”.

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