Frankfurt Group

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The Frankfurt Group, also called the Frankfurt Gang or the Frankfurt Five,[1] was a group of English-speaking composers and friends who studied composition under Iwan Knorr at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main in the late 1890s.[2] The group included Balfour Gardiner, Roger Quilter, Norman O'Neill and Cyril Scott, who were all English, and Percy Grainger, who was born in Australia and established himself as a composer in England between 1901 and 1914 before moving to the United States.[2] Although they did not study in Frankfurt all at the same time they remained close friends from their student days onwards.[3]

Knorr, though German-born, was strongly influenced by Russian music and was a believer in fostering the individuality of his pupils.[2] The Frankfurt group were united more by their friendship and their non-conformity than by any common aim,[4] though they did share a dislike of Beethoven,[5] and a resistance to the musical nationalism of the self-styled English Musical Renaissance of Hubert Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford, and of the later English Pastoral School of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.[2] The group was distinguished by its rebelliousness,[6] and by studying abroad they stood apart from the conservative wider English musical establishment.[3]

Grainger described the group as Pre-Raphaelite composers, arguing that they were musically distinguished from other British composers by "an excessive emotionality ... particularly a tragic or sentimental or wistful or pathetic emotionality", reached through a focus on chords rather than musical architecture or "the truly English qualities of grandeur, hopefulness and glory".[6] Most rebellious were Grainger and Scott, whose music often crossed the boundaries of accepted musical convention.[6] Scott's work for a time gave up the use of bars and time signatures, while employing dissonant harmonies and highly individual orchestration.[2]


  1. ^ Langfield 2002, p. 15.
  2. ^ a b c d e Howes 1965, p. 192.
  3. ^ a b Lloyd 2005, p. 15.
  4. ^ Langfield 2002, pp. 15-16.
  5. ^ Langfield 2002, p. 14.
  6. ^ a b c Lloyd 2005, p. 16.


  • Peter Cahn, Das Hoch'sche Konservatorium in Frankfurt am Main (1878-1978), Frankfurt am Main: Kramer, 1979.
  • Howes, Frank (1966). "Tributaries from Frankfurt, Birmingham and Elsewhere". The English Musical Renaissance. London: Secker & Warburg. pp. 192–202. OCLC 930472265.
  • Langfield, Valerie (2002). Roger Quilter: His Life and Music. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 0851158714. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  • Lloyd, Stephen (2005). H. Balfour Gardiner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052161922X. Retrieved 2017-11-28.