Holbrooke, Joseph (actually, Josef Charles)

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Holbrooke, Joseph (actually, Josef Charles)

Holbrooke, Joseph (actually, Josef Charles), English composer; b. Croydon, July 5, 1878; d. London, Aug. 5, 1958. He was a student of Corder (composition) and Westlake (piano) at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He then worked as a conductor and pianist. The success of his symphonic poem The Raven (1900) encouraged him to write a large body of music along Romantic lines. His most ambitious work was the operatic trilogy The Cauldron of Annwn (1909–29). Holbrooke’s initial success as a composer was not sustained. Especially in his early years he was a trenchant critic of the musical establishment. He was the author of Contemporary British Composers (London, 1925).


dramatic:Pierrot and Pierrette, lyric drama (London, Nov. 11, 1909; rev. version as The Stranger, Liverpool, Oct. 1924); The Cauldron of Annwn, operatic trilogy: 1, The Children of Don (London, June 15, 1912); 2, Dylan: Son of the Wave (1909; London, July 4, 1914); and 3, Bronwen (Huddersfield, Feb. 1, 1929); The Red Mask, ballet; The Moth and the Flame, ballet; The Enchanter, opera-ballet (Chicago, 1915); Coromanthe, ballet; The Sailor’s Arms, comic opera; The Snob, comic opera; Aucassin et Nicolette, ballet. ORCH.: 4 symphonic poems: The Raven (1900), Ulalume (1901–03), The Viking (1904), and The Birds of Rhiannon (1925); 1 unnumbered Piano Concerto (1896–1900); 2 numbered piano concertos: No. 1, The Song of Gwynn ap Nudd (1907) and No. 2, L’orient (1928); The New Renaissance, overture (1903); Apollo and the Seaman (1907); Violin Concerto, The Grasshopper (1917); 8 syms., including No. 3, Ships (1925), and No. 4, Homage to Schubert (1929); Cello Concerto, Cambrian (1936); Tamerlaine, concerto for Clarinet or Saxophone, Bassoon, and Orch. (1939); Sinfonietta for Chamber Orch.; military band music. CHAMBER: 6 string quartets (1896; Belgium-Russia, 1915; The Pickwick Club, 1916; nos. 4-6, 1918-19); Piano Quartet, Byron (1902); String Sextet, Al Aaraaf (1902); 2 clarinet quintets (c. 1903; Fate, or Ligeia, 1910); Fantasie Sonata for Cello and Piano (1904); Piano Quintet (1904); Quartet for Violin, Viola, Clarinet, and Piano (1905); 2 sextets for Piano and Strings (In memoriam, 1905; 1906); Fantasie String Quartet (1906); Sextet, Israfel, for Piano and Winds (1906); 3 violin sonatas; Woodwind Quartet; Saxophone Sonata; Quartet for Flute, Viola, Cello, and Harp; Quintet for Winds and Piano; Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Cello, and Harp; piano pieces, including 2 sonatas. vocal Chorus and Orch.: Ode to Victory (1901); Queen Mab (1902); The Bells (1903); Byron (1906); also Homage to E. A. Foe, dramatic choral sym. (1908), and numerous songs.


G. Lowe, J. H and his Work (London, 1920); J. H: Various Appreciations by Many Authors (London, 1937).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire