"…when the stars were shining, Fared I forth alone."
Gerald Finzi epitomised much that was characteristic of English Music, Literature and Landscape. He was part of that generation of composers who came to maturity in the middle of the 20th century. He was friends with Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edmund Rubbra, Howard Ferguson, Arthur Bliss and Robin Milford.
He had a great love for literature and collected a valuable library of 17th century books.
With the help of his wife, Joy, he edited and prepared the literary remains of that tragic poet and composer Ivor Gurney.
Finzi excelled in the setting of the English Language. He had an especial love for the poetry of Thomas Hardy and set many of his poems to music. His contribution to English Lieder was second to none.
Finzi wrote two masterpieces - his Cello Concerto, completed in 1955 and his choral work Intimations of Immortality -a setting of words by William Wordsworth
Finzi enjoyed the English countryside and this empathy is obvious in his music. His compositions are often bitter-sweet; there is always an awareness of the transience of life. This is the key to understanding his music.
Gerald Finzi died in 1956 aged only 55. He was at a turning point in his career. There is a new style emerging in late works. Vaughan Williams saw him as his successor as the scion of English Music. Yet Finzi's fear that his life would not be long enough to say all that he had wanted to say was proved to be correct.
Programme Notes (not yet available)
John France 3rd January 2002