Tone Poem Tuesday

Is there a more Me thing to do, blogging-wise, than announce a new series, post the first post in that new series, and then promptly forget about that series a week later? Oops! I completely forgot about Tone Poem Tuesday last week. Now, I did have a lot of different stuff going on, but Ye Gods, I gotta do better than that.

So this week we attend upon a work by Sir Arnold Bax (Great Britain, 1883-1953). In fact, this might be Bax’s most well-known work, although I personally have only heard it a handful of times. Bax’s music tends to be earthy and rustic, almost to the point of being rough-hewn. In addition, Bax’s music is atmospheric and clearly molded in the spirit of Romanticism, which is almost certainly why, to a large extent, his music fell into neglect after his death: his particular musical idiom was simply not in fashion anymore. Couple that with the fact that his scores tend to require large numbers of performers, and it all adds up to music that spent several decades languishing, except for occasional dustings-off of his tone poems, the most famous of which is apparently this one: Tintagel.

Bax was also heavily influenced by Celtic lore, and the castle of Tintagel in Cornwall is of major import in such lore, seeing as how it’s traditionally held as the birthplace of King Arthur. Bax’s tone poem is meant to convey some of the emotions of the location and give a sense of its character, through music. Bax eschewed any specific program for this work, intending it to be mainly suggestive of the ruined castle on the tiny spit of land that is constantly being pounded by the sea.

Here is Tintagel by Sir Arnold Bax.

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