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Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax

(1883—1953) composer

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British composer. He was knighted in 1937 and served as Master of the King's Music from 1941 until his death, which occurred shortly after he was made KCVO.

Born in London, Bax studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Frederick Corder (1900–05); although he never played the piano in public, he was a fine pianist and an expert score reader. A visit to Russia in 1910 was influential, but more lasting was his sympathy for and understanding of the Celtic revival, particularly of Irish literature, which fostered in him a lifelong love of Ireland, its folksong, and its scenery. With this powerful focus allied to a natural melodic gift, an expansive inventiveness, and an idiomatic notion of harmony, he produced a number of evocative tone poems, of which Tintagel (1917) is most frequently performed.

Between 1921 and 1939 he wrote seven symphonies, each classically conceived but with three instead of the usual four movements. The first four symphonies are cyclic works, in that themes in the first movements recur in later movements. Among other works are two ballets, choral pieces, chamber music, and a large number of songs and piano pieces. A self-confessed romantic, he wrote as he felt, unmoved by modern trends. Many tokens of esteem include the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1931).

Subjects: Music

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