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John Foulds

(1880—1939) composer and author


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(b Manchester, 1880; d Calcutta, 1939).

Eng. composer and cellist. Son of a professional bassoonist. Studied pf. at 4 and started to compose at 7. Became orch. cellist at 14 and until 20 played in th. bands in Manchester region. Joined Hallé Orch. under Richter in 1900. In 1906 was Eng. composer‐delegate to Essen Mus. Fest., where he met Mahler and Strauss, and in 1910 went to Munich for f.p. of Mahler's 8th Sym. Comp. incid. mus. for plays prod. by Lewis Casson. Moved in 1912 to London, where he met and eventually married the actress, musician, and writer Maud MacCarthy (1882–1967). Mus. dir., YMCA National Council 1918–23. From 1919 to 1921 he worked on his World Requiem, for soloists, ch., and orch. This ambitious work was perf. in Royal Albert Hall at Armistice Night commemoration (‘Festival of Remembrance’) in 1923 and for 3 subsequent years. In 1924 wrote incid. mus. for Shaw's Saint Joan. In 1927 Foulds went abroad, returning in 1930. Unable to obtain more than a few perfs., he went to India in 1935 to study folk music. In 1937 he was appointed dir. of mus. for All‐India radio in Delhi. Formed radio orch. and Indo‐European orch. of traditional Ind. instr. In 1939 was transferred to Calcutta to organize mus. at newly established radio station, but died from cholera after only a few days in new post.

Foulds's mus. was perhaps too eclectic to survive but a body of opinion exists which makes high claims for it. Like Ives he was a tireless experimenter and was ahead of his time in Eng. mus. in working in microtonalities. The modal pf. mus., the str. qt. Quartetto Intimo, the Vc. Sonata, the pf. conc. Dynamic Triptych, and several songs are splendid mus. and deserve to emerge from oblivion.

Subjects: Music


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