DYSON: Symphony in G Major / Concerto da Chiesa / At the Tabard Inn

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Sir George Dyson (1883-1964)

George Dyson was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, theson of a blacksmith. Although from a working-classbackground in the industrial north, he became a Fellowof the Royal College of Organists at the age of sixteen.

Winning an open scholarship to London's RoyalCollege of Music in 1900 he went on to be the voice ofpublic school music and, in 1937, Director of the RoyalCollege of Music, the first alumnus of the College to doso, a fact of which he was inordinately proud. At theCollege Dyson was a pupil of Sir Charles VilliersStanford, then at the height of his influence as acomposition teacher. In 1904 Dyson won theMendelssohn Scholarship, and went to Italy, laterjourneying on to Vienna and Berlin, where he met manyof the leading musicians of the day. In London Nikischconducted his early tone-poem Siena, later withdrawn.

On Dyson's return to England, Sir Hubert Parryrecommended him as Director of Music at the RoyalNaval College, Osborne. Dyson soon moved toMarlborough College, but on the outbreak of war in1914 he enlisted. During the war he became celebratedfor his training pamphlet on grenade warfare, which heproduced as brigade grenadier officer of the 99thInfantry Brigade, and which was widely disseminated.

Dyson saw action in the trenches and in due course wasinvalided out. In his diary Parry writes in shocked termswhen he saw Dyson back in College, a shadow of hisformer self.

Dyson worked in the Air Ministry where he helpedestablish RAF bands, and he also realised the marchRAF March Past that Walford Davies had sketched inshort score. In 1920 he became known as a composerwhen his Three Rhapsodies for string quartet, composedsoon after his return from the continent before the war,were chosen for publication under the Carnegie UnitedKingdom Trust's publication scheme. He was appointedto Wellington College, and he also became a professorat the Royal College Music.

In 1924 Dyson moved to Winchester College,where he enjoyed possibly the most productive part ofhis life as a composer. In addition to teaching andschool music, here he also conducted an adult choralsociety. If one said that at this time he composed as ahobby one would give the wrong impression, yet thiswas a spare time activity for him in a busy professionalmusical life. Such practical musicianship gave him thefoundation for his later successes. This started in 1928with In Honour of the City, which was so successful hesoon produced a more ambitious piece, The CanterburyPilgrims, a succession of evocative and colourfulChaucerian portraits written for Winchester in 1931 andprobably his most famous score. Soon he wascommissioned by the Three Choirs Festivals to writefurther works, and for Hereford in 1933 he produced StPaul's Voyage to Melita (repeated in 1934, 1937 and1952). Other Festivals soon followed, and TheBlacksmiths was written for Leeds in 1934, and thenNebuchadnezzar for Worcester in 1935. There werealso orchestral works including the Symphony in G of1937 and in 1942 a Violin Concerto.

Knighted in 1941, Dyson retired in 1952, to enjoy aremarkable Indian summer of composition, though bythis time his music was beginning to sound oldfashionedto some, and although it all achievedpublication and performance it did not have quite theimmediate following of his earlier scores. These laterworks included Sweet Thames Run Softly, a mellifluoussetting for baritone, chorus and orchestra of words fromEdmund Spenser's Prothalamion. Finally came atwenty-minute nativity sequence A Christmas Garland,and Agincourt a brilliant return to the scale and style ofthat first choral work, In Honour of the City, now settingwell-known Shakespearean words.

Lewis Foreman
Catalogue number 8557720
Barcode 0747313272020
Release date 04/01/2005
Label Naxos
Format CD
Number of discs 1
Artists Walden, Timothy
Riddell, Duncan
Cox, Helen
Green, Stuart
Riddell, Duncan
Cox, Helen
Green, Stuart
Walden, Timothy
Composers Dyson, George
Dyson, George
Conductors Lloyd-Jones, David
Lloyd-Jones, David
Orchestras Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Disc: 1
Symphony in G major
1 At the Tabard Inn (Overture)
2 I. Veni, Emmanuel
3 II. Corde natus
4 III. Laetatus sum
5 I. Energico
6 II. Andante
7 III. Allegro risoluto - L'istesso tempo - Molto mo
8 IV. Poco adagio - Andante - Allegro assai - Andant
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