Arnold Bax

Born 8 November 1883. Died 3 October 1953
Arnold Bax
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1883-11-08
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/9138c4da-1959-445c-8ac8-ba917ec84b3a
Arnold Bax

Arnold Bax Biography (BBC)

A self-proclaimed ‘brazen romantic’, Arnold Bax was born on 8 November 1883 into a prosperous London family and attended the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied piano under Tobias Matthay and composition under Frederick Corder. While still a teenager Bax fell under the spell of Yeats and all things Irish: he taught himself Gaelic and, under the pseudonym of Dermot O’Byrne, wrote a sizeable quantity of poems, plays and short stories, some of them genuinely accomplished. Following his marriage to Elsita Sobrino in 1911 he moved to the Dublin suburb of Rathgar, but domestic life did not suit him and in 1916 he embarked upon an affair with (and subsequently left his wife and two children for) the 19-year-old pianist Harriet Cohen, who went on to inspire some of his most enduring music. Theirs was a turbulent and complex relationship. In 1926 Bax met another, more stable companion, Mary Gleaves – though, amazingly, Harriet knew nothing of her existence for 20 years.

Bax’s reputation was at its zenith between the wars. All seven of his symphonies date from this period (and enjoyed prestigious premieres under such podium greats as Koussevitzky, Wood, Beecham, Harty and Boult), as do his large-scale Symphonic Variations and Winter Legends (both for piano and orchestra), concertos for cello and violin, a Phantasy for viola and orchestra, four piano sonatas and two string quartets (in addition to many other orchestral, chamber and instrumental offerings), as well as the glorious motet for unaccompanied double choir, Mater ora filium. However, Bax’s formidable creative energy began to wane as he approached his mid-fifties, and in the 1940s he remarked to a friend that he had retired ‘like a grocer’. He received a knighthood in 1937, completed his entertaining autobiography Farewell, My Youth in 1940, and, two years later, and was appointed Master of the King’s Musick. In 1948 he produced a colourful score for David Lean’s classic big screen adaptation of Oliver Twist. He died on a visit to Cork on 3 October 1953.

Ironically, the pungent individuality of Bax’s musical personality derives in no small measure from its fruitful absorption of numerous influences (among them Celtic and Nordic folklore, Wagner, the Russian nationalists, Debussy, Ravel, Elgar, Holst and Sibelius). Nature also plays a key role, the nomadic composer preferring to work in the coastal solitude of Glencolumcille, County Donegal, or Morar in the Western Highlands of Scotland. Bax’s vast output is, hardly surprisingly, uneven, but his best compositions display a melodic fecundity, intrepid emotional range, formal strength, seductive beauty and infinitely subtle harmonic scope that exert a powerful pull.

Profile © Andrew Achenbach



Featured Works


Arnold Bax Tracks

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Arnold Bax
Adventure Overture
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Adventure Overture
Arnold Bax
November Woods
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November Woods
Arnold Bax
The Happy Forest
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The Happy Forest
Arnold Bax
Elegiac Trio For Viola, Flute And Harp
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Elegiac Trio For Viola, Flute And Harp
Arnold Bax
Dream In Exile For Piano [1916]
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Dream In Exile For Piano [1916]
Arnold Bax
The Garden of Fand
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The Garden of Fand
Arnold Bax
Woodland Love 'Romance' (Spring Fire)
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Woodland Love 'Romance' (Spring Fire)
Arnold Bax
Dance of Wild Irravel (Four Orchestral Sketches)
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Dance of Wild Irravel (Four Orchestral Sketches)
Arnold Bax
Concertante for cor anglais, clarinet, horn and orchestra (2nd mvt)
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Concertante for cor anglais, clarinet, horn and orchestra (2nd mvt)
Arnold Bax
This Worldes Joie
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This Worldes Joie
Arnold Bax
The Happy Forest, Symphonic Poem
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The Happy Forest, Symphonic Poem
Arnold Bax
Scherzo
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Scherzo
Arnold Bax
Hardanger
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Hardanger
Arnold Bax
The Poisoned Fountain
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The Poisoned Fountain
Arnold Bax
Symphony No.2 – 1st movement
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Symphony No.2 – 1st movement
Arnold Bax
November Woods
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November Woods

November Woods

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Conductor
Bryden Thompson
Arnold Bax
Dance in the Sun (4 Orchestral sketches)
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Dance in the Sun (4 Orchestral sketches)
Arnold Bax
Tintagel
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Tintagel
Arnold Bax
Into The Twilight
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Into The Twilight
Arnold Bax
Four Orchestral Sketches (Dance in the Sun)
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Four Orchestral Sketches (Dance in the Sun)
Arnold Bax
Tintagel
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Tintagel
Arnold Bax
Elegiac trio
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Elegiac trio
Arnold Bax
The Tale the Pine Trees Knew
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The Tale the Pine Trees Knew
Arnold Bax
Bax Spring Fire
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Bax Spring Fire
Arnold Bax
Summer Music
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Summer Music
Arnold Bax
Tintagel
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Tintagel
Arnold Bax
Mater ora filium for double choir
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Mater ora filium for double choir
Arnold Bax
Tintagel
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Tintagel
Arnold Bax
Morning Song, 'Maytime in Sussex'
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Morning Song, 'Maytime in Sussex'
Arnold Bax
Symphonic Variations (no.6: Triumph)
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Symphonic Variations (no.6: Triumph)
Arnold Bax
Elegiac Trio
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Elegiac Trio
Arnold Bax
Oliver Twist - music from the film (Finale)
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Oliver Twist - music from the film (Finale)
Arnold Bax
Summer Music
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Summer Music
Arnold Bax
Violin Concerto
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Violin Concerto
Arnold Bax
Into the Twilight (Eire)
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Into the Twilight (Eire)
Arnold Bax
Mater ora filium
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Mater ora filium
Arnold Bax
Christmas Eve - tone poem
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Christmas Eve - tone poem
Arnold Bax
Tintagel - symphonic poem
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Tintagel - symphonic poem
Arnold Bax
Tintagel - symphonic poem
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Tintagel - symphonic poem
Arnold Bax
Legend for viola and piano
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Legend for viola and piano
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