Yesterday turned into one of those days when there was quite a large amount of editing going on. I tidied up the English sounds for Ay Hyd y Nos, which will need a little more work today, cast a beady eye over Peace, My Heart, which is just about ready to go out into the big wide world, and then spent some time working on the commission for December, which is ticking along nicely at the moment, hopefully hitting the right balance by being easy to put together for the performers, but still interesting. Late in the afternoon I also received an email from Mark at Mary Abbots to the effect that they wanted to perform my Bath Responses on Sunday morning. These were originally for the girls’ choir at St. George’s for their tour to Bath, but I needed to re-clef them, for we only have men at Mary Abbots this coming Sunday. It also gave me the opportunity to correct a rather glaring wrong note – the piece sounds much better now!
It was therefore a day of odds and ends rather than endings and beginnings, but no matter, for I still made substantial progress, and everything is heading in the right direction. I also sniffed about a couple of other opportunities, so we shall see whether anything will eventually come of them. For the time being, though, I am still going to have to be very careful as far as spending money is concerned, at least until a few cheques and payments come in, but there is plenty to look forward to later in the year, and bits of work continue to drop into my inbox.
Today I intend to put to bed two of my recent projects – the choral score of Ar Hyd y Nos and Peace, My Heart. The orchestral version of the former does not need to be ready until the end of March, and it is already so far advanced that I am not going to lose any sleep over it. The latter merely needs a dedication to be added and one final listen to tidy up any loose ends before it is sent off. They should receive their premières in April and March respectively, my first of the year. With Thy Might should see the light of day in May, and Festive Voluntary in July, so the ball will start rolling before too long.
I worked on some lecture notes yesterday as well, getting to grips with the little tricks hidden in Powerpoint, and seeking out decent images of various composers. I have to cover quite a large topic (the post-Romantic musical crisis) in under an hour tonight, so I am optimistic that I am going to run out of time before I run out of material, but I took the opportunity to listen to some early Bartok (for some reason, he is never on my radar when I choose to listen to something) and some late Liszt, reminding myself once again how skewed our view of this man really is. If only people would stop listening to those virtuoso fireworks from his early career and seek out his mature pieces they would find an extraordinary mind. I was rather hoping that his anniversary year would lead to a more rounded view of him, but, alas, no. Dig out Nuages gris from the early 1880s and see if you can work out what Liszt is up to here, for it most certainly is not resting on laurels.
Although I use many other books and dictionaries, Grout and Palisca’s A History of Western Music is still my first port of call for a decent and readable overview, although I have not always agreed with everything in there.
I gave my school copy to a charity shop in 2010, partially because it was an old edition, but mainly because I now own the Folio Society edition, which is a joy to behold and touch. I visited some people on Tuesday who had wall to wall Folios on their shelves and I remarked how lucky they were, to which they replied that they had been collecting them since at least the late 50s. For all the convenience an e-reader may bring, it will never replace the tactile delight of one of those books for me, especially those pristine ones I pick up from charity shops in well-to-do areas.
The day pushes on and I need to get writing, editing, sending and so on. Let’s see what it may bring. If I get things done before time I might treat myself to reading some more of The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Periodic Table – in Folio, naturally.