ENID CRUICKSHANK (Contralto)
THE WIRELESS ORCHESTRA
Conducted by JOHN ANSELL
MICHAEL WILLIAM BALFE , though counted as one of our English composers, was really Irish, born in Dublin in 1808. At the early ago of six he was playing the violin for his father's dancing classes, and a year later was able to score the dance music for a band. In 1817 ho appeared as solo violinist, and in the same year made his debut as a composer with a ballad which was afterwards sung by Madame Vestris. After several years of varied experience, which included playing in the orchestra at Drury Lane, travelling abroad and meeting Cherubini, Rossini, .and other Masters, singing, too, as an operatic baritone with decided success, he began his career as a writer of English Opera in 1835. For some time he combined his activities in that direction with singing, and among the parts in which he made successful appearances was that of Papageno, in the first performance of the Magic Flute in English, in March, 1838. In 1841 he removed to Paris, where several of his works were produced with real success. It was during his stay there that he composed The Bohemian Girl, the most successful of all his Operas, and the only one which maintains its hold on pubic affection today. He returned to England to produce it hero, and the work was afterwards given abroad in German, Italian and French, in different parts of Europe. From then, until 1864, he was busily engaged as composer and conductor, appearing with success in Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg and other famous centres. He received more than one foreign distinction, being a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and a Commander of the Order of Carlos III. of Spain. The King of Prussia offered him the Order of the Prussian Eagle, but this ho was not allowed to accept. In 1864 he retired to the country, and while devoting himself largely to rural pursuits, still continued to compose and to make occasional visits abroad. He died in 1870, his widow surviving him till 1888. In 1882 a memorial tablet to him was unveiled in Westminster Abbey. He had many of the gifts which go to make a successful musician, particularly an almost unlimited fluency of melodious invention, and the happy knack of producing striking effects. His great experience enabled him to use these not only with a fine command of the resources at his disposal, but with an astonishing rapidity in production. He lacked something of self-criticism, however; immediate success apparently counted for more with him than a high standard of artistic value ; the same qualities which won him so much popularity in his lifetime are those which account in largo measure for his failure to gain a really great place among the immortals.
ERIC COATES , a thoroughly equipped musician whose hand is no less sure in music of the sternest order, has used his fine gift oftenost to give us what might well be called ' music of entertainment or recreation.' From the . scholar's point of view, his is all thoroughly good music whatever be it3 subject, even when, as here, ho chooses a beloved old tale of nursery days.
Everybody knows the story, and none can have any difficulty in following it, in Coates' music. Goldilocks, we remember, rose very early and stole out of the house on a summer morning to explore the forbidden home of tho Three Bears. Her curiosity, her wonder at the different sizes of the three-fold sets of everything, are all set before us, and none can mistake the voices of the three bears as they come back to find traces of her presence and finally herself.
A our readers know, Mr. Percy Scholes , so long music critic to the B.B.C. and Music
Editor of The Radio Times, retired last autumn from Savoy Hill, London, to the real Savoy Hill. He has reappeared from time to time both in our columns and at the microphone : only last Wednesday he ' introduced ' Stravinsky as a ' new friend in music,' and tonight ho will talk about the manifold delights of his Swiss home.