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Arthur Somervell (1863 - 1937)

Arthur Somervell, like many of his English contemporaries, studied with Stanford at Cambridge. A period in Berlin was followed by further study with Parry in London at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught for a time. He was active as an inspector for the Board of Education, involved in the activities of the Folksong Movement and with the Church Music Society. He was knighted in 1929.

Songs and Choral Music

Somervell’s interest in music education is reflected in works suitable for amateur choral societies, such as The Forsaken Merman, a setting of Matthew Arnold’s poem, and Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, using Wordsworth’s poem. His song cycles include a setting of Tennyson’s Maud, poems from Housman’s A Shropshire Lad and Browning’s James Lee’s Wife. It is chiefly his songs that ensure him a place in English repertoire.

Orchestral Music

Somervell’s orchestral music includes his Piano Concerto ‘The Highland’ and a Violin Concerto. Other orchestral works are his Symphony ‘Thalassa’ and Symphonic Variations ‘Normandy’.



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