James’ Choice: Antonio de Almeida’s score of Iannis Xenakis’ Metastasis

a photograph of Antonio de Almeida's copy of Xenakis' Metastasis

Antonio de Almeida’s markings on Xenakis’ Metastasis

This month the library item I’ve decided to highlight is the score for Iannis Xenakis’ (1922-2001) Metastasis from the printed music collection of the conductor Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997), complete with his performance markings. There are a number of reasons for my choice. As well as being a landmark piece of twentieth-century modernism, it’s a visually-striking score on account of its size and intricacy. Moreover, Antonio de Almeida’s pencil markings are a fascinating insight into the practical considerations required for performing a piece like this. It’s also an excellent example of Xenakis’ unique approach to composition, and one with a very explicit connection to his work as an architect.

score

Written in 1953-4, and premiered at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1955, Metastasis is Xenakis’ first major work after the completion of his studies with Olivier Messiaen. In this piece, Xenakis lays down the foundation for many of the approaches and attitudes to music composition that were to occupy him for the rest of his career. The work combines an idiosyncratic system for controlling pitch material and an approach to sound best described when he says ‘the sonorities of the orchestra are building materials, like brick, stone and wood […] The subtle structures of orchestral sound masses represent a reality that promises much’.[1] In this piece, each orchestral player has a separate part, and Xenakis combines, on the one hand, the continuous evolution of enormous glissando structures and, on the other, the discontinuous permutation of pitches.

 ‘I was interested in two things in those years. One: I wanted to write a kind of dodecaphonic music with the help of computation – a music whose macroform emerges from a few basic principles. In Metastasis I made computations based on the permutations of intervals, with the help of the axiomatic approach known in mathematics.

Two: I was interested in the continuous changes of chords. […] How to make that change a continuous one? So long as one remains in the same scale, the only solution is a glissando. […] That was the basic idea.’[2]

 

Metastasis is also the first work in which Xenakis’ compositional planning for the piece involved using a two-dimensional projection. Here, time is on the x-axis and pitch on the y-axis, and ruled straight-line paths are bent into curved surfaces.

Composition sketch for Xenakis metastasis showing the basis for the hyperbolic paraboloids of the Philips Pavillion

Image scanned from Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 74

Xenakis also employed this technique in later compositions (such as Stratégie and Syrmos), but it’s particularly fascinating how it was also translated directly into his work as an architect. The connection is immediately obvious with how these curves built from multiple straight-line paths (hyperbolic paraboloids) were incorporated into the distinctive shape of his design for the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels Exposition Universelle, built during his time working in the office of Le Corbusier. Incidentally, the pavillion had another connection to musical modernism in that it formed the setting for performances of Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique.[3]

expo again

Image by Wouter Hagens, accessed from http://www.archdaily.com/157658/ad-classics-expo-58-philips-pavilion-le-corbusier-and-iannis-xenakis, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The score on display was plucked from the personal printed music library of Antonio de Almeida, housed in the Jerwood Library’s special collections. Consisting of 5,456 volumes, including scores acquired by him from the collections of Charles Munch and Pierre Monteux, it’s a wide-ranging collection, reflecting his own diverse musical interests. Alongside the Xenakis score, the collection ranges from other leading lights of twentieth-century modernism, via more mainstream orchestral repertoire of the 19th and 18th century, to composers such as Carlos Chavez, André Grétry, Howard Hanson, Hans Pfitzner and Henri Serpette. Not to mention works by Offenbach and Boccherini, in whom de Almeida had a particular interest. Described by Grove as ‘a conductor of elegance and fastidious detail’, he was also awarded the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d’Honneur.[4]

 


 

[1] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[2] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 72.

[3] Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[4] Noël Goodwin, ‘Almeida, Antonio (Jacques) de’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/00643&gt; (Accessed August 23rd, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity College of Music Archive Online

Following many months of dust, sweat, and toil, we are pleased to announce that the archive of the former Trinity College of Music (TCM) has been catalogued online and is now fully accessible to researchers for the first time. Thanks to special funding from Trinity Laban and former principal Derek Aviss, we had six months to sort out a lot of boxes…

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These boxes were all held in storage, unlisted, and were therefore inaccessible to researchers. We appraised and arranged all the records in a sensible order before describing them on the Archives Hub. Finally, everything was moved into the library’s closed-access storage area, and re-housed in nice new boxes…

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The archive covers the period from the foundation of the college in 1872 to 2005 (when TCM merged with the Laban Dance Centre). Records relating to the administration of local examinations and diplomas are included up until 1992 when Trinity College London was established as a separate company. Materials include minutes of meetings, student records, calendars and prospectuses, photographs, concert programmes, and much more…

20160825_16234620160825_15374820160825_162459 (2)Concert programmes re-housed in archival-standard enclosures

Anyone is welcome to view material from the archive, but please bear in mind that some records are closed in accordance with legal requirements. Please contact us in advance of your visit to make an appointment.

New music for singers

The third phase of the library’s printed music strategy got underway this year. Having built up our collection of jazz, full scores, and opera, it was time to focus our attention on solo songs and collections. Look out for new works by contemporary composers such as Michael Finnissy, Giacinto Scelsi, Robin Holloway, Thomas Ades, Piers Hellawell, Tansy Davies, Roxanna Panufnik, Joanna Lee, Lynne Plowman, and Sally Beamish, as well as new additions from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern repertoires.

This year we are looking to develop our collection of music for violinists (solo music and accompanied), so if you have any recommendations please let us know. Requests for specific pieces – in any category – can be made by completing a purchase request form, available at the enquiry desk or on Moodle.

The library’s most recent printed music acquisitions are listed here, please keep checking for updates!

Cover images are reproduced with the kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes and Hal Leonard.

Item of the Month: Stanley Black’s film music for “The Young Ones” starring Cliff Richard

20160805_114218This summer’s Item of the Month features items from our Stanley Black archive relating to his music for the Cliff Richard film The Young Ones for which he wrote the music.

A pianist, conductor, composer and arranger, Stanley Black was known primarily for his many film music scores, his jazz and popular music arrangements and his work for the BBC as conductor and presenter of light music programmes. This collection comprises hundreds of autograph manuscript scores as well as ephemeral material including concert programmes, correspondence, contracts and photographs. The majority of the scores are listed separately on the library’s online catalogue – to browse a list of them, choose Stanley Black collection from the source option.

His filmography includes:

It Always Rains on Sunday (1948)
Too Many Crooks (1958)
Make Mine a Million (1959)
Jack the Ripper (1959)
The Battle of the Sexes (1959)
Hand in Hand (1960)
The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
Sands of the Desert (1960)
The Siege of Sidney Street (1960)
House of Mystery (1961)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Valentino (1977)

The image above shows a close up of part of the score for reel “5M1” of The Young Ones. The scores give a fascinating glimpse of the working practices involved in producing film music: notice the penciled-in remark concerning the violin solo – possibly made by an arranger or sound engineer.

Web chat support trial

This term, we are trialling web chat support for library users via the Jerwood Library catalogue. This live web chat is staffed by library staff during library opening hours only.

Screenshot showing web chat button on Jerwood Library catalogu

To use the chat, look for the Need help? button at the bottom-right of the catalogue page, then enter your name and send us a message!

So far users have asked us for help with a variety of topics including details of specific services we offer, finding repertoire and accessing online subscription resources.

I was inspired to try out a web chat service in the Jerwood Library after visiting the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Whittaker Library in Glasgow last summer (you can check out their pioneering blog for yourself – Whittaker Live). They have been using web chat successfully for some time and have found certain groups of library users prefer to make contact in this way rather than in person or by phone or email. Of course we will continue to welcome enquiries made in these ways as well!

The Jerwood Library will review the web chat service after the summer 2016 term to decide whether or not to continue with it. If you’ve used the chat and have any feedback, let us know.

Item of the Month: May 2016

Though it may seem surprising to us now, Richard Strauss’s symphonic poem Also Sprach Zarathustra op.30 caused a great deal of controversy when it premiered in 1896. Based on Nietzsche’s novel, in which the title character, Zarathustra, descends from the mountains after ten years of solitude to enlighten his fellow man, this philosophical allegory (itself the subject of some controversy) was thought inappropriate by many concert goers. A number of critics went as far as to accuse Strauss of musical philosophising. However, the composer said that his intention had not been to translate Nietzsche’s philosophical ideas into music. Rather, the inspiration was derived from Nietzsche’s overarching concept; the progress of mankind from its earliest origins through to what Zarathustra presents as humanity’s ultimate goal, a perfect being or “superman”.

There are certainly parallels between Strauss’s claims for his project in Zarathustra and Wagner’s similar claim for Der Ring des Nibelungen. Notwithstanding the difference in scale, both claim to represent the movement of human history from its origins to the critical point that divides the old world from the new; the watershed being the end of the 19th century and the ushering in of the 20th. The arresting motif which opens Also Sprach Zarathustra, announcing the dawn of this new age, is perhaps one of the most striking in all music. It was used to great effect in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 A Space Odyssey, extending the appeal of Strauss’s music beyond concert audiences.

We have a number of recordings in the library and on our online streaming services. However, if you would prefer the excitement of seeing a live performance, Also Sprach Zarathustra is being performed by the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra at Cadogan Hall on 16th June.

A display about Also Sprach Zarathustra is in the small display case next to the library enquiries desk until the end of May.

Trinity Laban Faculty of Music Composers’ series: Luke Styles

The Jerwood Library is very pleased to present a display highlighting the work of Luke Styles, who teaches at Trinity Laban’s very successful Junior Department.

Education
Luke began his composition training with a Bachelor of Music (composition) degree at the Royal Academy of Music London (graduating with honours in 2005, in 2015 Luke was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music). Following this Luke went on to postgraduate studies with Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin, and with Detlev Müller-Siemens. He is currently working on a PhD on the topic of Collaboration and Embodiment as Compositional Process; a Transdisciplinary Perspective at Trinity Laban.

Career, awards and commissions
Luke has collaborated with many of the world’s top soloists and his music has featured at festivals including the Wien Modern, Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne and Darmstadt International and at major performance venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Glyndebourne, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and others.

Luke has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including a carol for the Financial Times, the Wolfgang-Rihm Scholarship, an Association for Cultural Exchange Study Tours Scholarship, DAAD scholarship, commissions from PRS New Works, RVW Trust, Britten-Pears Foundation, Sonic Arts Network Expo 2005. He was a winner in the Mosco Carner Composition Award; came 2nd place in the Moscow International Schnittke composition competition in 2002, etc.

Luke has been awarded scholarships to take part in various courses throughout Europe and Asia where he has worked with composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Harrison Birtwistle, Marco Stroppa and Gunnar Eriksson, and is Artistic Director of Ensemble Amorpha.

Handspun & Macbeth
The Jerwood Library exhibition focuses on two of Luke’s works: Handspun for aerialist and cellist, and Macbeth, scored for chamber orchestra and produced at Glyndebourne in 2015.

“the orchestral writing is crisp and incisive, conjuring up with imagination the successive atmospheres required for the tragedy’s trajectory.”
George Hall on Macbeth in The Guardian

“. . . Luke Styles’s effective score, a sort of modern take on the musique parlante, or ‘speaking music’ that ballet composers went in for in the 19th century.”
Giannandrea Poesio on Handspun in The Spectator

Links
Luke Styles’ website is a useful resource. Find his works list, details of forthcoming performances, video clips of his work, photos and reviews.

Luke Styles in the Jerwood Library collection

Macbeth (vocal score); shelf mark: 780.7 STY

Handspun (score); shelf mark: 781.35 STY

CD: Tangled Pipes by Consortium5 featuring Three Stages by Luke Styles
shelf mark: WOODWIND/CHAMBER: CON

E-STREAM
Access E-STREAM via the Library Links menu on Moodle.
Click here to hear BBC’s Radio 3 Hear and Now broadcast from 12/7/2014 featuring his The Girls Who Wish to Marry Stars with the Juice Vocal Ensemble. Alternatively search for “Luke Styles”. This recording is only accessible to current TL students and staff in the UK.

Wind, Brass and Percussion Music in Special Collections

Today we have a post aimed at encouraging wind, brass and percussion players to make more of our special collections. Whilst it’s true that much of the collections comprise voice and string-based repertoire, this is by no means exclusively the case. So, here are some choice picks to help you explore further (NB non-WBP players may also find something of interest here!).

Printed music

The Bridge Memorial Library (the historic library of the former Trinity College of Music) is full of rare and unusual printed music from the classical and romantic periods.

Reissiger

Carl Reissiger’s Vier Gesänge for soprano, horn and piano 780.3 REI

Of relevance here, there are several out-of-print works of chamber music involving wind or brass instruments. For instance, we have a set of quartets by C. F. Baumgarten for oboe and strings – we featured them a few years ago in this blog post here. Then there is Henri Brod’s Cinquième Fantaisie for piano, oboe and bassoon. Or how about Reissiger’s Vier Gesänge for soprano, horn and piano.

bound volume

Nineteenth-century volume of clarinet trios including Heinrich Lannoy, Grosses Trio für Pianoforte, Clarinett und Violoncello 782.7029 LAN

Clarinettists may want to delve into this volume of trios, originally for various different instrument combinations but bound together clearly with the intention of being played by a clarinet trio. It even includes some manuscript arrangements for the clarinet part – a great insight into nineteenth-century performance practice.

We also hold first or early editions of better-known works, useful for comparing with performance directions in later editions. For instance, see this 1820s edition of Spohr’s Octet.

Manuscript music

As well as rare printed music we also hold many unique manuscript scores of works written for wind, brass or percussion instruments.

Several of these can be found in our Carey Blyton collection which came to us in 2006. Blyton was a former TL student and professor, and a prolific composer. Relevant items include a brass quintet, woodwind trio and song cycle for voice, clarinet, horn and piano.

Another manuscript by one of our former composition professors is Arnold Cooke’s autograph score of Divertimento for flute, oboe, violin, cello and piano (or harpsichord). Cooke taught at the conservatoire between 1947 and 1978.

Lastly, so as not to neglect our percussionists, there are the three autograph manuscript scores by Simon Bainbridge, David Bedford, and John Woolrich which together comprise Songs, Sketches and Tall Stories, a work for narrator, clarinet, piano and percussion. This was composed for a schools music theatre project at Blackheath Concert Halls (now owned by Trinity Laban) in March 1989.

Accessing the collections

If you’d like to discover more, all our special collections are described here on our website. And many collections are catalogued at item level on our catalogue.

When you’ve found something you’d like to see, please contact us to make an appointment so we can have the material ready for you. Our special collections are available to all researchers, whether members of Trinity Laban or not. Please note that copies can only be made in compliance with copyright law – we can advise on specific items.

Vivian Joseph Centenary

Today we celebrate the centenary of Vivian Joseph (1916-2005), cellist and former professor at Trinity College of Music (now Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music).

TCM 12.7.1 Vivian Joseph 1934

Vivian Joseph in 1934. TCM Archive.

Born in Wales, Vivian Joseph took up the cello aged seven after hearing Lauri Kennedy play. He was soon hailed as a child prodigy, winning numerous awards at competitive festivals. A prize-winning studentship at the Royal Academy of Music followed, and in the late 1930s Joseph gave several critically-acclaimed recitals at the Wigmore Hall.

Master Joseph [12], not only carried off the prize for ‘cello playing in his own class … but also in the class for competitors under seventeen, and the senior class. [1]

During the Second World War Joseph enlisted in the army. He rose to become 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Ulster Rifles before being wounded in action in North Africa in 1944.

1944 on crutches

Vivian Joseph in uniform and on crutches after being wounded in action [1944]. TCM Archive.

After a lengthy rehabilitation, Joseph resumed his performing career, becoming a noted chamber musician. Among other groups, he was a member of the London Piano Quartet, the Park Lane Ensemble, and the Dumka Piano Trio. With the London String Trio he gave the European première of Schoenberg’s String Trio (the first performance was at Harvard, Massachusetts).

From 1953 Joseph taught cello and chamber music at Trinity College of Music and was awarded an honorary fellowship in 1965. In 1997 he generously funded a series of prizes to be awarded to college string students.[2] He also taught at the Royal Academy of Music. Joseph died in 2005 and his obituary was published in the Guardian.

In the archives we hold a file relating to Vivian Joseph which includes photographs, a scrapbook and concert programmes. Please get in touch if you would like to see the material.

[1] ‘Boy Prodigies’, Nottingham Evening Post, 11 April 1929.

[2] Trinity College of Music, Magazine, Autumn 1997, p. 8 and supplement.

Item of the month: Autograph Manuscript of ‘Fragment for Harold Rutland’ by Sorabji

IMG_0539March’s item of the month is the autograph manuscripts of Fragment for Harold Rutland by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988). Sorabji was a composer, pianist and music critic best known for his enormously long and complex piano works such as Opus Clavicembalisticum (1929-30), which lasts over four hours. The Fragment for Harold Rutland, however, is his shortest piano work and exists in three versions – 1926, 1928 & 1937. On display now are the autograph manuscripts for the 1926 & 1928 versions of the piece.

Sorabji was, in many ways, an outsider. Being born in England in 1892, his homosexuality and Parsi-heritage made him so, as did his self-described ‘mania for privacy’, his many anti-establishment views, and his private musical training. His financial independence also meant that he could ignore any requirements for his music or writing to provide him with an income.

It was in the 1920s that he began to distance his music from ordinary listeners and performers and many of the qualities that are instantly apparent in the Fragment came to the fore. In his piano music he used three or four staves, and sometimes up to seven. His compositions became much more intricately detailed, more fluid in rhythm and a-symmetrical in phrasing, used highly complex counterpoint and harmony, and made great demands of virtuosity and stamina as his works extended to often extraordinary lengths.[1]

Sorabji has written on the cover ‘Harold’s copy – bless his heart and fingers!’

Harold Rutland joined Trinity College of Music in 1957 as a lecturer and examiner, and is also author of the book Trinity College of Music: The First Hundred Years. (783.07 RUT). He was a staunch champion of Sorabji’s music, describing him as ‘one of the very few I would unhesitatingly describe as a genius[…] I will only add that I have always felt honoured by your friendship, and not a little unworthy of it; indeterminate dabbler that I am.’[2]

It was Rutland that gave the first performance of the work at Aeolian Hall in London on 12 October 1927. The occasion was later described by Eric Blom from the Manchester Guardian as…

received with a mixture of derision, indignation, and bewilderment that was perfectly understandable and probably flattering to the composer. It is music that simply will not fit in with any European standards, but neither does it belong to the Orient, which hugs its artistic conventions much more closely than the West. Exotic it certainly is, but its outlandishness is of the spirit and has nothing to do with any terrestrial homesickness. The composer is simply a seeker after an idiom of his own, and one knows from rare hearings of one or two of his works that he is passionately sincere in his quest. It is due to this absolute earnestness that at the second hearing the ‘fragment’ already seemed much clearer than at the first. Even those who intensely dislike this music should thus in the end come at least to respect its fearless attitude.[3]

In addition to the fragment, Sorabji dedicated to Rutland two other piano works: Un nido di scatole (1954) and the Fourth Symphony for Piano Alone (1962-64). The Jerwood Library also has the handwritten dedication to the latter from Sorabji to Rutland saying:

To Harold Rutland, whose independence of mind, admirable freedom from spiritual and moral besotment by contemporary fashions of musical haberdashery, deserves all the affection and respect of his friends among whom I rejoice to subscribe myself. K.S.S


[1] Paul Rapoport and Marc-André Roberge. “Sorabji, Kaikhosru Shapurji.” Grove Music Online.Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 29, 2016,http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/26247.

[2] Letter from Harold Rutland to Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, dated London, 24 January 1954.

[3] Blom, Eric, ‘London Recitals’, The Manchester Guardian, 13 October 1927: 6