Whittaker, W(illiam) G(illies)

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Whittaker, W(illiam) G(illies) (b Newcastle upon Tyne, 1876; d Orkney Isles, 1944). Eng. composer, conductor, organist, and scholar. Studied Armstrong College, Newcastle upon Tyne, joining its staff as, successively, instructor, lect., and reader in mus. Devoted most of his life to promoting mus. activities, particularly choral singing, in NE of Eng. Specialist in cantatas of J. S. Bach (his 2-vol. book on them was pubd. posthumously, 1959). Championed mus. of his friends Holst and Vaughan Williams, also of Debussy, Satie, and Poulenc. Founder and cond., Newcastle Bach Ch. 1915. Cond. Newcastle and Gateshead Choral Union 1919–29. With Newcastle Bach Ch., gave first complete perf. for 3 centuries of Byrd's Great Service, 1924 (Newcastle Cath. and St Margaret's, Westminster). First Gardiner Prof. of Mus., Glasgow Univ., 1929–41; Prin., Scottish Nat. Acad. of Mus. (now RSAMD) 1929–38, 1939–41. ENSA mus. adviser to Scottish Command, 1942–4. In 1930 rediscovered at Uppsala Univ., Sweden, sonatas of Eng. composer, William Young (d 1671) and gave their f.p. in Brit.

Whittaker's work as cond. and scholar overshadowed his creative work, but perf. of several of his works in his centenary year revealed an orig. and compelling composer, ahead of his time, whose mus. deserves further and widespread exploration. In addition, his many arrs. of North Country folk-songs, pipe-tunes, and ballads, and of works by Bach, Purcell, Gluck, etc., have their own high value. Prin. works:BALLET: The Boy who didn't like fairies, fl., str., pf., perc.ORCH.: Prelude, The Coephori of Aeschylus (1921); 3 Mood Pictures (orig. for pf.) (1923); pf. conc., with str.CHORUS & ORCH.: A Lyke-Wake Dirge (1924); The Coelestial Sphere (1923); A Festal Psalm (1932); Choruses (women's) from The Coephori; Southward Bound; Ode, male ch.VOICE & ORCH.: To the Beloved, sop.CHORAL: Psalm 139 (1925); Candle Gate (1929); The Concertina (1929); I said in the noontide of my days (1930); Chorus of Spirits from Prometheus (1931); Where neither moth nor rust (1931); 4 Poems by Bridges; The wind and the rain; Jocelyn; The Ship of Rio; and other works still in MS.CHAMBER MUSIC: Among the Northumbrian Hills, pf., str. qt. (1921); Phantasie, qt. (1929); Phantasie, qt., pf., str. (1929); Phantasie, str. trio (1930); wind quintet (1930); va. suite (1932); vn. sonatina (1928); fl. suite (1925); Suite of North Country Folk-Tunes, pf., str. qt.; Swedish Impressions, sextet, pf., wind.PIANO: A Day in the Country (1916); 3 Mood Pictures (1918, orch. 1923); 4 Short Pieces (1924); 5 Short Sketches (1926); A Short Suite (1930); By Running Water.SONGS: The Ship of Rio (1919); Dream Song (1919); 4 Songs of the Northern Roads (1919); 2 Song Carols (1921); Bog Love (1924); Stay in Town (1924); 2 Lyrics from the Chinese (1925); Michael's Song (1926); Gay Robin is seen no more (1936).

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Whittaker, W(illiam) G(illies)

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