About this Recording
8.223709 - South African Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

South African Romantic Music

South African Romantic Music



Four South African Folk tunes (Transcribed by Theo Wendt)


The Four South African Folk tunes, based on original South African ethnic tunes, were transcribed for orchestra in 1947 by Theo Wendt, composer and conductor. Educated at the Conservatory in Cologne and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Wendt spent much of his life in South Africa and is perhaps best known for the role he played in establishing the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra in 1914. From 1926 until 1938, he lived in America and Germany to further his conducting career, but returned once again to South Africa as conductor of w hat was then the new South African Broadcasting Corporation (S.A.B.C.) Orchestra in Johannesburg. Thereafter he was appointed as their official arranger and orchestrator. In 1948 Wendt was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of professional orchestral music in South Africa. He died in Johannesburg in 1951.


Henry Lissant-Collins (1880-1941)

Fuquoi in the Sugar Cane


Henry Lissant-Collins was born in Liverpool in 1880 and emigrated to South Africa in 1902. A versatile musician, being a composer as well as a performer on five instruments, he also pursued a career in journalism, as music critic and newspaper editor. Lissant-Collins retired in 1931 to live on the South Coast of Natal, where he devoted his time to his earlier interest in Zulu music. His four orchestral works, of which Fuquoi in the Sugar Cane is one, are evidence of this period.


Fuquoi in the Sugar Cane has become one of the 'Classics' in the South African orchestral repertoire, having been played on many occasions by various South African orchestras over the past fifty years. "Fuquoi" is evidently Lissant-Collins' English version of the Zulu U-Fookwe, which is the Burchell's coucal, a rather shy bird, which likes to nest in dense shrubbery.


Fuquoi in the Sugar Cane is a model of sensitive scoring, an atmospheric

tone-painting which reveals the influence of Delius both in its soft colouring and in free floating short melodic fragments against lush impressionistic harmony.



Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1904 - 1980)

Fatse la heso


Michael Moerane, choral conductor, pianist and composer, taught music in various parts of the Transkei and Lesotho while studying through the University of South Africa, becoming the first black African to obtain a degree in music at a South African university. His symphonic poem Fatse Ja heso, was submitted as an exercise in composition in order to complete the requirements for his Bachelor of Music degree. Moerane studied by himself without tuition, except in the subject of composition, in which he was coached by F .H. Hartmann, then Professor of Music at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.


Two studio performances of Fatse Ja heso (My Country) were given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Clifford Curzon, on 17th November 1944, for both the African Service and the Horne Service. My Country was also performed in New York and Paris, under the direction of Dean Dixon.


According to the composer, in a note prefaced to the score, My Country is based on thematic material derived from freely-adapted African songs: a warrior's song, a reaper's song, a free transformation of a cradle-song and a hymn which supplies the harmonic structure.




Gideon Fagan (1904 - 1980)

Karoo Symphony (1976/77)


Gideon Fagan was born at Somerset West in the Cape Province of South Africa in 1904. He lived in England for twenty-seven years before returning to his native country. As conductor, he made regular guest appearances on concert platforms and in the theatre. His compositions include songs, concert works, chamber music and music for many British films.


The Karoo Symphony was commissioned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and completed by Fagan in 1976n7. Each movement seeks to reflect different aspects of the vast, desert-like but beautiful interior of the Cape Province known as the Great Karoo. In the first movement, a slow tempo is maintained throughout, expressive of the peacefulness and calm one experiences in the Karoo. The second movement, the Scherzo, performed in a "hushed" style, seeks to describe the "fauna and phantoms", the little creatures of the bush which are mostly unseen, and "phantoms" which are commonly associated with the Karoo. The scene fades away as the busy creatures relax into a state of repose. The third movement, described as Calamity, reflects the tragedy of heavy storms breaking a protracted drought and causing large-scale destruction as well as loss of life and livelihood. The idea of Karoo storms is carried into the fourth movement which reflects the drama of the typically severe storm with its torrential rain, thunder and lightning and high winds. But the rain also brings new life to the parched land and for miles around the wilderness is transformed into a garden of wild flowers. Like the previous three movements, the fourth movement fades away into silence, the silence of the Karoo which the composer found "eloquent, inspiring and beyond all, all-absorbing…"


Alison Gaylard

July 1994



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