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Alada Janoska

Gerald Finzi (1901-56) decided to become a composer at the age of nine. He studied first with Ernest Farrar, whose death in the First World War deeply affected him, then with Edward Bairstow, master of the choristers at York Minster. During the twenties he was taught counterpoint by R.O. Morris and came to notice with works like the orchestral miniature A Severn Rhapsody (1923), and a song-cycle to poems by his favourite poet Thomas Hardy, By Footpath and Stile (1921-2). After his marriage to the artist Joyce Black in 1933, he moved to the countryside near Newbury, settling at Ashmansworth, high on the Hampshire Downs.

Finzi’s reputation grew during the 1930s with performances of his Hardy song-sets A Young Man’s Exhortation (1926-9), and Earth and Air and Rain (1928-32), and was consolidated with the premiere in 1940 of his cantata for high voice and strings Dies natalis (mid 1920s, 1938-9). During World War II Finzi worked at the Ministry of War Transport and founded a fine, mainly amateur orchestra, the Newbury String Players. Two of his most popular works appeared during the war, the Five Bagatelles for clarinet (1938-43) and his Shakespeare settings, Let us Garlands bring (1929-1942).


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