And here we are at the conclusion of the first round for England. The final two players are Finzi and Elgar.
Believe it or not, I used to know a baritone who was so enamoured of Finzi that his license plate read “FINZER”. To know Finzi is to love Finzi, unless you lack a delicate and refined temperament.
Gerald Finzi is one of those composers that appeals to the small, quiet spaces of our consciousness which we might often neglect. That is not to say his music lacks drama but that it is of a contemplative nature.
His is the music of the countryside.
Finzi was born in London in 1901 but he was a man of the country. He moved back to London in 1925 but when he got married in 1933 he moved back to the country for good where he dedicated himself to composing, collecting rare books, and growing apples. His book collection is now housed at two separate universities.
The pieces of music for which Finzi is best known are Imitations of Immortality for tenor, orchestra, and chorus, Dies Natalis for chorus, tenor, soprano, and string orchestra, and his Cello Concerto and Clarinet Concerto.
Finzi’s song settings of Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy texts are second to none. Every lover of art songs or lieder will remember the first time they discovered the songs of Finzi.
We’ve had one major upset in the English bracket, Smyth over Holst, and Finzi pushed Elgar but Sir Edward Elgar is a composer of the highest order and he moves through to the next round with MVP honors.
World Cup of Composers: Rule Britannia