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Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music Kindle Edition
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This thoroughly researched and well written book provides all the information about this English composer that any reader would be likely to require. McVeagh already has a highly praised biography of Edward Elgar to her credit. Finzi taught composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1930 to 1933, but in 1933 he married Joy Black and the couple retired to the countryside around Newbury to grow varieties of apples - some 350 of them when the orchards were at their peak. Finzi was born in London, the last of five children. Although nominally retired from 1933 when he was only 32, some of his best known compositions were still to come - the concertos for clarinet (1949), for piano (1953) and for cello (1955); and the wonderful setting of Wordsworth's `Intimations of Immortality' (1938 & 1950). The settings of poet Thomas Hardy span a number of years (1928-1936), and these also rate amongst his best loved compositions. McVeagh's biography gives us the background to these works and is laid out chronologically up to his early death at the age of only 55. There is a catalogue of his works, details of the repertoire of the Newbury String Players that Finzi and his wife Joy inaugurated in 1940; a quite detailed Bibliography of other books about the composer; and an Index.
Diana McVeagh describes the emotional bleakness of Finzi's early life: he seems to have had little time for his parents or his siblings, though by the end of the First World War he was the only survivor apart from his mother, someone he appeared to tolerate rather than love. The tendency to judge others who were not artistic is a notable characteristic of the young man, though after marriage, he mellowed considerably. He did not have a school education and even when he began to study music seriously, he studied privately with Ernest Farrar, whom he idolised, and later Herbert Sumsion, organist at Gloucester Cathedral. Farrar was killed during the war and this affected the young Finzi deeply. Sumsion was to remain a life-long friend of the Finzi family.
Finzi started to produce serious work in the late 1920s, the best known composition being By Footpath and Stile, a cycle of six songs. Around this time he met Howard Ferguson, yet another young composer and they also remained friends for life. In these early years, Finzi avoided academic and city life as far as possible, preferring to live in the country. While staying at a cottage, he met his future wife, Joy Black. Joy kept a journal during their marriage and McVeagh makes considerable use of this to guide us through the rest of their life together.Read more ›
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