Eric Fogg

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Charles William Eric Fogg (21 February 1903 – 19 December 1939) was an English composer and conductor. His early works were influenced by Igor Stravinsky,[1] though his later pieces owe more to Granville Bantock and Richard Strauss and even William Walton.[2] Much of his music has been lost.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Fogg was born in Manchester, the son of Charles H. Fogg, the organist for the Hallé Orchestra,[3] who was his first teacher. His mother, Madame Sadler-Fogg, was also musical (she trained the young Isobel Baillie in singing) and contributed to his musical education.[1] He became a boy chorister at Manchester Cathedral from ages 10 to 14[1] and then studied with Granville Bantock in Birmingham.[1][2] He started composing very early and his output was considerable. On 30 March 1920 the British Music Society presented an evening of the 17-year-old Fogg's music, in which 25 of his works were given a hearing. The meeting was addressed by Leigh Henry.[2] He had written 57 works by the age of 18.[2][3]

On 16 June 1921, the "Chinese suite" The Golden Valley (1919) was premiered by Adrian Boult with the Queen's Hall Orchestra at the Royal College of Music, on the same concert as the first and only performance of Ivor Gurney's War Elegy.[4] He joined the BBC in Manchester in 1924 as an accompanist, rising to assistant music director.[5] In the 1930s he was well known as "Uncle Eric" of the radio program Children's Favourites. He succeeded Archie Camden as the conductor of the Manchester Schoolchildren’s Orchestra.[2] He moved to London and became musical director of the BBC's Empire Service in 1934.[2][6] In 1935 he conducted the Empire Orchestra in the first performance of Peggy Glanville-Hicks's Sinfonietta in D minor for small orchestra.[7]

Death[edit]

Eric Fogg died on 19 December 1939, when he either fell or jumped under the wheels of a train at Waterloo Station in London. He had been on his way to Brighton for his second wedding.[6] The coroner delivered an open verdict,[2] however his death is often described as suicide.[8]

Music[edit]

Fogg's music attracted differing opinions and even some hostility during his lifetime. Some critics felt that he was too modernistic, but others complained that he did not wholeheartedly encompass modernism.[2] It soon fell from the repertoire, but of recent years his music has started to be performed once more, and recorded.

  • Sea Sheen: An Idyll, Op. 17 (1920),[9] was written before his study with Granville Bantock.[2] It is possible that it is the same as the Idyll heard at Bournemouth on 24 March 1919.[2] It exists in both piano[10] and orchestral versions, the latter recorded by the BBC Midland Light Orchestra conducted by Gilbert Vinter, and the BBC Concert Orchestra under Gavin Sutherland.[9][11]
  • The tone poem Merok (1929), in the form of variations on a Norwegian folk song, was recorded for the first time by the BBC Concert Orchestra under Vernon Handley.[3][9][11]
  • The original score for the choral and orchestral work The Seasons (words by William Blake)[1] was either lost or destroyed.[12] It was premiered at the Leeds Festival in 1931, in the same concert as the premiere of William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.[13][14] To celebrate the centenary of Fogg’s birth, a new score was prepared, and the work was performed by the Broadheath Singers and the Windsor Sinfonia conducted by Garry Humphreys at St Mary's Parish Church, Slough, on 13 September 2003.[12] It received another performance on 25 March 2006, with the BBC Philharmonic and the Leeds Festival Chorus under Simon Wright, which was (apparently erroneously) described as "the first performance in 75 years".[6][12][13]

Other works include:

  • Hansel and Gretel, ballet (1918)[5]
  • Scenes from Grimm, orchestra (1918)[5]
  • Dance Fantasy for piano and strings (1919),[5] which won a Cobbett Prize[2][16]
  • The Golden Valley, Chinese suite (1919)
  • The Golden Butterfly, ballet (June 1919)[1]
  • Ballade in C minor (piano)[2]
  • The Hillside (1921; soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra; words by Rabindranath Tagore)[1]
  • Songs of Love and Life (Tagore; 1921)[1]
  • Overture to Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors (1922)[1]
  • String Quartet in A-flat (1922–23)[17]
  • Poem for cello and piano (1922)[1]
  • Fanfare for 4 trumpets[18]
  • Three Chinese Songs, Op. 59 (1920; words by Leigh Henry)[19]
  • various other songs[20]
  • Suite for violin, cello and harp[1]
  • Fantasy for cello and piano
  • The Face in Motion
  • Caprice for violin[1]
  • many piano pieces.

Fogg orchestrated Walter Carroll's Seascape: A Children's Suite. The piece has been recorded by the Northern Chamber Orchestra under Nicholas Ward.[21]

The writer Pebblehead dedicated "The Nuts Of Narcolepsy" to Eric Fogg.[22]

References[edit]