THEODORE HOLLAND (1878 - 1947)
Theodore Holland is another of a large swathe of lamentably under-appreciated British composers. He was educated at Westminster School before moving to the Royal Academy of Music, where, like Bantock, York Bowen and Benjamin Dale, he studied with Frederick Corder. His ambitions as a composer were sufficient to lead him further afield, to study with Joachim at the Musikhochschule in Berlin. Nevertheless, Holland’s earlier output was dominated by lighter genres and it was theatre that best suited his idiosyncratic and colourful style. (His most popular work was a Suite extracted from the music for a children’s play on Santa Claus).
Eventually, Holland’s skills as a serious composer were acknowledged through his appointment in 1927 as Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint at the Royal Academy of Music, where he would remain until the end of his life. Amongst his students was Iris du Pré, mother of the cellist Jacqueline. Interestingly, Holland’s wife Isména would become godmother to the young cellist.
Holland won two mentions in dispatches and an OBE for his services during the Great War, but his experiences left him suffering shell-shock for the remainder of his life. This was reflected in an increased musical intensity and introspection, but the tonal generosity of his music was already deemed old-fashioned in the face of accelerating modernity and the music of the Second Viennese School. A small number of works did achieve moderate success and one of these, Ellingham Marshes, for viola and orchestra, was given its première at the Promenade Concerts on 15 August 1940 and broadcast by the BBC in April 1941.