Henry Purcell
  • Henry Purcell
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Bax as a young man.

Who is going to prevail between Arnold Bax and Henry Purcell? While Purcell isn’t a household name, there isn’t a mezzo-soprano alive who’s escaped her undergraduate studies without singing When I Am Laid in Earth.

Bax is almost an unheard of composer even though he is Sir Bax. Arnold Bax was born into a wealthy family and was free to explore his music, and the ladies, whenever and however he wanted. Bax was a part of the Edwardian British flowering of composers, which began with Elgar.

From Elgar we have to go all the way back to Purcell in the Baroque to find a composer of equal or greater stature.

Purcell was an influence on the pack of early 20th Century Brits and his significance can’t be underestimated.

However, after reading up on Bax I found authors such as Robert Barnett who have a fever for Bax.

The Bax disciples have a passion for his music that is rarely expressed by fans of other composers.

After listening to Bax’s 2nd and 6th Symphonies along with a few of his tone poems I have begun to see their point. I’m surprised Bax isn’t a better known composer.

Bax is going to go through to the next round. He has a raucous crowd to cheer him on and he could go far.

World Cup of Composers: Rule Brittania

  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


Psycholizard Sept. 20, 2013 @ 4:46 p.m.

You really should avoid these blanket statements, many call Handel a British composer, in residence and influence he was as British as Lully was French. Categorizing Western music by nationality might be a poor idea to start with, notation made styles jump borders with the mails. If you're searching for something truly British. you can't ignore Gay's Beggar's Opera, a bigger hit today than Dido perhaps, and unlike Dido, not essentially Italian in style.


Garrett Harris Sept. 20, 2013 @ 9:01 p.m.

Well, the idea here is to have some fun with a tournament style, superficial survey off more than 100 composers. If you'd like to develop a tournament bracket based on notation styles please be my guest. I find grouping composers by country to be infinitely more interesting. Regarding the German born Handel and the Italian born Lully, the BULK of their output was in their adopted countries. I suppose we could consider Arnold Schwarzenegger to be an Austrian movie star but I'm not sure how many Austrian movies he's been in.


Psycholizard Sept. 28, 2013 @ 12:39 a.m.

The trouble with classifying Pre-Romantic composers by nationality is that they themselves would resent it. They really believed in an ideal style, an international style, that mostly followed the Italian or the French. Anything else was regarded as provincial, that's why so many composers visited Italy, and why Opera in Britain so often was sung in Italian, by imported singers.


Garrett Harris Oct. 7, 2013 @ 4:03 p.m.

No doubt. You see, I'm a Philistine. I need a certain number of composers to fill out a bracket. So far it has been 16 per country. You're point is well taken but it doesn't serve what I'm trying to accomplish. So please regard me as provincial.


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader