Clarence Raybould

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Clarence Raybould
Birth name Robert Clarence Raybould
Born (1886-06-28)28 June 1886
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Died 27 March 1972(1972-03-27) (aged 85)
Bideford, Devon, United Kingdom
Genres 20th century
Occupation(s) Conductor, composer, pianist
Instruments Piano
Years active 1912–1958

Clarence Raybould (Robert Clarence Raybould) was born in Birmingham on 28 June 1886, to Robert James Raybould (born 1862), a printer compositor, and Ellen Amelia Raybould (née Weston, born 1862), and died in Bideford on 27 March 1972. He was an English conductor, pianist and composer who conducted works ranging from musical comedy and operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan to the standard classical repertoire. He also championed works by contemporary, particularly British, composers.

Biography[edit]

Clarence Raybould studied under Sir Granville Bantock and in 1912 became the first person to receive a BMus degree at Birmingham University.[1]

He assisted Rutland Boughton at early Glastonbury festivals, working later with the Beecham Opera Company and the British National Opera Company. His opera The Sumida River (with a libretto by Marie Stopes adapted from the same Japanese Noh play as, and anticipating Benjamin Britten's Curlew River), was premiered in Birmingham on 25 September 1916. When Britten learned of Raybould's opera in 1958, he commented 'Actually I didn't know that C. Raybould even composed. Don't let it worry us. But what a funny coincidence.'[2]

Raybould toured Britain as a pianist and accompanist and was musical advisor for the Columbia Graphophone Company between 1927 and 1931.[3]

He joined the BBC in 1936 and was assistant conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1939 to 1945.[4] He conducted the first British concert performance of Hindemith's opera Cardillac in 1936 as well as that of Mathis der Maler in 1939.

In 1943 Raybould was sent a score of Britten's Matinées Musicales by Erwin Stein of Boosey and Hawkes in the hope that he would conduct it. Raybould, alluding to Britten's pacifism, replied saying that 'the score is of no interest to me because of the composer's personal views and behaviour, I was going to say politically, but expand this to 'nationally'. I have the utmost contempt for the whole gang of young people who are dodging the county's call.'[5] Raybould later apologised to Britten for this 'very angry and hot-headed communication'.

On 9 May 1951, Raybould conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in their first concert in the recently opened Royal Festival Hall.[6]

Raybould became the first conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1945,[7] and was its principal conductor until 1966.

Raybould died in 1972 and was survived by his wife Evelyn (27 March 1907 – 10 August 1976). They are buried together in Northam, near Bideford in Devon.[8]

1956 tour to Russia[edit]

After Joseph Stalin's death in 1953 when his successor Nikita Khrushchev admitted 'past mistakes', cultural exchange became a possibility, and selected Soviet artists such as David Oistrakh began to appear in Britain. So when Sir Arthur Bliss, Master of the Queen's Music, arranged for a representative group of six British musicians, including Raybould, to tour the USSR in 1956, it was a high-profile event:[9][10] the result of painstaking negotiation and cause for intense curiosity on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

According to a carefully worded Times appraisal it was 'not an official mission but the outcome, with official blessing, of a personal invitation' to Bliss. Khrushchev was himself involved in the tour, and the plan was to programme modern British music alongside its Soviet equivalent in the course of sixteen concerts over three weeks.

Leaving London on 14 April 1956, the delegates were confronted with the practical consequences of the cold war: no direct flights to Russia. They flew British European Airways to Copenhagen, then a Finnish flight to Helsinki, followed by another Finnish flight to Moscow.

Soprano Jennifer Vyvyan's diary notes the 'poor food' on the British European Airways flight and the gruelling length of the journey, which left her too ill and tired on arrival to do much except sleep for the next few days. But the Russians turned the arrival into a media event, with the composers Kabalevsky and Khatchaturian and the pianist Tatyana Nikolayeva welcoming the plane on its touchdown just before midnight. Every one of the sixteen concerts was sold out in advance, and the musicians found themselves instant celebrities, acknowledged in the street and pursued by journalists in their hotel rooms.

The programme started on 17 April with a public rehearsal of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra under Raybould, playing Bliss's Violin Concerto (with Alfredo Campoli), Arnold Cooke's Oboe Concerto (Leon Goossens), some Elgar, some Kabalevsky, and one of Vyvyan's standard arias: Mozart's Martern aller Arten from Die Entführung aus dem Serail. That evening Smith and Sellick played Beethoven and Vaughan Williams in the Great Hall of the Conservatory.[11] The group also performed in Leningrad, Kiev and Kharkov, and returned to Moscow for a farewell concert attended by Khrushchev.

Selected compositions[edit]

  • The Sumida River, opera (1916)
  • Score for Paul Rotha's Rising Tide and Contact (1933)
  • Dance Serenade, for cello and piano (1937)
  • A Legend, for cello and piano (1937)
  • Three Pieces (Prelude, A Fairy Tale and Passepied) for piano solo (1938)
  • Dorothy, for six-part mixed voices (1948)
  • The Wistful Shepherd for clarinet and piano
  • Four Songs (Merciles Beautie, In the Red April, Crepuscule and The Flower Girl)

First Performances[edit]

Recordings[edit]

  • First complete recording of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Clarence Raybould (conductor). Decca X101-7, 1936[18]
  • Mozart Concert Rondo in A, K386. Clarence Raybould (conductor) with Eileen Joyce (piano). 5 February 1936, Parlophone[19]
  • Elgar Sea Pictures, excerpts. Clarence Raybould (conductor), Mary Jarred (contralto) and BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Fauré Vocalise-étude in E minor. Clarence Raybould (piano) with Leon Goossens (oboe). Oboe Classics. CC2005.
  • Bax Winter Legends, Viola Sonata, A Mountain Mood, A Hill Tune. Clarence Raybould (conductor) with Harriet Cohen (piano), William Primrose (viola) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Dutton. CDBP9751.
  • Mozart Fra gli amplessi from Così fan tutte. Clarence Raybould (conductor) with Ina Souez (soprano) and Heddle Nash(tenor)[20][21]

Notable broadcasts[edit]

  • Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky – a play based on the film broadcast on BBC radio on 26 April 1942 with Michael Redgrave (Nevsky) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and Theatre Chorus, Clarence Raybould, conductor[22]
  • Bliss Peace Fanfare for Children. BBC SO/Clarence Raybould. BBC Home Service. Children's Hour, broadcast 8 May 1945 (VE Day).[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vincent Budd, A Brief Introduction to the Life and Work of Sir Granville Bantock
  2. ^ [Letters from a Life Vol 1: 1923–39: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten]
  3. ^ Gramophone Magazine, June 1972, obituary Clarence Raybould
  4. ^ BBC archive, In Honour of Russia press release
  5. ^ [Letters from a Life Vol 1: 1923–39: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten]
  6. ^ George Weldon
  7. ^ First in the world: the story of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales; Beryl Bowen James and David Ian Allsobrook University of Wales Press 1995 ISBN 978-0-7083-1296-4
  8. ^ Northam Monumental Inscriptions
  9. ^ Times article about 1956 tour
  10. ^ English Artists in Moscow
  11. ^ Jennifer Vyvyan – Cold War Diplomacy
  12. ^ Donald Mitchell, Britten and Auden in the thirties
  13. ^ Ernest Bloch Legacy
  14. ^ http://www.kith.org/jimmosk/barnett.html
  15. ^ Classics Online catalogue
  16. ^ Brittenpears.org
  17. ^ Philip Sainton
  18. ^ Naxos
  19. ^ Eileen Joyce timeline
  20. ^ Les Introuvables du Chant Mozartien: 50 Years of Mozart Singing on Records
  21. ^ Ina Souez &Amp; Heddle Nash " Fra Gli Amplessi" on YouTube
  22. ^ Alexander Nevsky: A Play for Radio
  23. ^ BBC sound archives

External links[edit]