Morning Heroes

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Morning Heroes is a choral symphony by the English composer Arthur Bliss. The work received its first performance at the Norwich Festival on 22 October 1930, with Basil Maine as the speaker/orator.[1] Written in the aftermath of World War I, in which Bliss had performed military service,[2] Bliss inscribed the dedication as follows:

"To the Memory of my brother Francis Kennard Bliss and all other Comrades killed in battle"

The work sets various poems:[3][4]

The extracts are spoken by a narrator and sung by a large choir. Juxtaposing the harsh images of trench warfare with the epic heroes of Ancient Greece, the parallels Bliss draws are essentially romantic, and the work as a whole has been criticised as being rather complacent.[5] Bliss himself said that he suffered from a repeating nightmare about his war experiences and that the composition of Morning Heroes helped to exorcise this.[6][7]

Movements[edit]

The work falls into five sections, in the structure of a palindrome, with the first movement acting as a prologue, then fast, slow, and fast movements, and the final movement acting as an epilogue.[6] The work includes the respective texts.:[4]

  • I: "Hector's Farewell to Andromache"
  • II: "The City Arming"
  • III: "Vigil" - "The Bivouac's Flame"
  • IV: "Achilles goes to battle" - "The Heroes"
  • V: "Now, Trumpeter, For Thy Close" - "Spring Offensive" - "Dawn on the Somme"

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ F.B. (1 December 1930). "The Norwich Festival". The Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 71, No. 1054. 71 (1054): 1081–1082. doi:10.2307/914304. JSTOR 914304. 
  2. ^ Burn, Andrew (August 1991). "Rebel to Romantic: The Music of Arthur Bliss". The Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 132, No. 1782. 132 (1782): 383–386. doi:10.2307/965884. JSTOR 965884. 
  3. ^ Butcher, A.V. (April 1947). "Walt Whitman and the English Composer". Music & Letters. 28 (2): 154–167. doi:10.1093/ml/28.2.154. JSTOR 855527. 
  4. ^ a b H.G. (1 October 1930). "Morning Heroes: A New Symphony by Arthur Bliss". The Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 71, No. 1052. 71 (1052): 881–886. doi:10.2307/916872. JSTOR 916872. 
  5. ^ Penguin Guide to Classical Music
  6. ^ a b Burn, Andrew (October 1985). "'Now, Trumpeter for Thy Close': The Symphony Morning Heroes: Bliss's Requiem for His Brother". The Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 126, No. 1713. 126 (1713): 666–668. doi:10.2307/965037. JSTOR 965037. 
  7. ^ Palmer, Christopher (August 1971). "Aspects of Bliss". The Musical Times. The Musical Times, Vol. 112, No. 1542. 112 (1542): 743–745. doi:10.2307/954592. JSTOR 954592. 
  8. ^ A studio recording made in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the composer's death. See the BBC Radio Classics 15656 9199-2 CD booklet note by John Mayhew, page 3: "This recording was made more than ten years after the commercial record made in Liverpool by Sir Charles Groves, at a BBC Invitation Concert in Studio One at Maida Vale in March 1985."