ARNOLD BAX (1883 - 1953)
Arnold Bax, English by birth, found through reading the poet W.B. Yeats a latent affinity with things Irish. The Celtic element, in consequence, plays a large part in his work and thought. He occupied an important place in English music in his own time and was knighted in 1937. At its best his music has a compelling charm and power.
Bax wrote scores for the films Oliver Twist, the war-time Malta GC and Journey into History.
In addition to his seven symphonies Bax wrote a series of evocative tone poems of Celtic implication, including The Garden of Fand, November Woods and Tintagel. There are concertos for cello, for viola and for violin; Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra; and Concertante for piano left hand and orchestra. The latter was written for Harriet Cohen, with whom he had a long relationship.
Bax wrote three numbered string quartets, various quintets, an interesting viola sonata, three violin sonatas, and works for larger instrumental groups, including a nonet for wind and string instruments and an octet for horn, piano and string sextet.
Vocal and Choral Music
Bax’s choral works include settings of traditional carols, while his solo songs allow him to explore more Celtic ground in a variety of settings, ranging from A Celtic Song Cycle to settings of poems by James Joyce, J.M. Synge, and the English writers Clifford Bax (his brother) and A.E. Housman.
Bax wrote seven piano sonatas, some unpublished, and a number of pieces for piano solo or duo, many with evocative titles.