Foulds, John (Herbert)

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Foulds, John (Herbert)

Foulds, John (Herbert), significant English composer and music theorist; b. Manchester, Nov. 2, 1880; d. Calcutta, April 24, 1939. He was precocious and began to compose at a single-digit age. He learned to play cello, and earned a living by playing in theater orchs. In 1900 he joined the Hallé Orch. in Manchester; then moved to London in 1910, where he served as music director for the Central YMCA (1918–23); also conducted the Univ. of London Music Soc. (1921–26). In 1935 he went to India and undertook a thorough study of Indian folk music. He served as director of European music for the All-India Radio at Delhi and Calcutta (1937–39) and also formed an experimental “IndoEuropean” orch., which included both European and Asian instruments. He was the first English composer to experiment with quarter tones, and as early as 1898 wrote a string quartet with fractional intervals; he also composed semi-classical pieces using traditional Indian instruments. Unfortunately, many of his MSS are lost.

Works

DRAMATIC The Vision of Dante, concert opera (1905–08); Cleopatra, miniature opera (1909; not extant); The Tell-Tale Heart, melodrama (1910); Avatara, opera (1919–30; not extant); music for the ritual play Veils (1926; unfinished). ORCH.: Undine Suite (c. 1899); Epithalamium (London, Oct. 9, 1906); Lento e scherzetto for Cello and Orch. (c. 1906); 2 cello concertos: No. 1 (1908–09; Manchester, March 16, 1911) and No. 2 (c. 1910; not extant); Apotheosis for Violin and Orch. (1908–09); Mirage, symphonic poem (1910); Suite frangaise (1910); Keltic Suite (1911); Music Pictures (Group III), suite (London, Sept. 4, 1912); Hellas for Double String Orch., Harp, and Percussion (1915–32); Miniature Suite (1915); Peace and War, meditation (1919); 3 Mantras (1919–30); Le Cabaret, overture to a French comedy (1921); Suite fantastique (1922); Music Pictures (Group IV) for Strings (c. 1922); Saint Joan Suite (1924–25); Henry VIII Suite (1925–26); April-England, tone poem (1926–32); Dynamic Triptych for Piano and Orch. (1929; Edinburgh, Oct. 15, 1931); Keltic Overture (1930); Indian Suite (1932–35); Pasquinades symphoniques, sym. in 3 movements (1935; finale left unfinished); Deva-Music (1935–36; only fragments extant); Chinese Suite (1935); 3 Pasquinades (c. 1936); Symphony of East and West for European and Indian Instruments (1937–38; not extant); Symphonic Studies (1938; not extant). CHAMBER: 10 string quartets: Nos. 1–3 (before 1899; not extant), No. 4 (1899), No. 5 (not extant), No. 6, Quartetto romantico (1903), No. 7 (not extant), No. 8 (1907–10), No. 9, Quartetto intimo (1931–32), and No. 10, Quartetto geniale (1935; only the 3rd movement, Lento quieto, extant); Cello Sonata (1905; rev. 1927); Impromptu on a Theme of Beethoven for 4 Cellos (1905); Music Pictures (Group I) for Piano Trio (1910; not extant); Ritornello con variazioni for String Trio (1911); Aquarelles (Music Pictures—Group II) for String Quartet (c. 1914); Sonia for Violin and Piano (1925). KEYBOARD : Piano : Dichterliebe, suite (1897–98); Essays in the Modes, 6 studies (1920–27); Egotistic, modal essay (1927); 2 Landscapes (c. 1928); Scherzo chromatico (1927; not extant). VOCAL : The Song of Honor for Speaker, Chamber Orch., and Women’s Chorus ad libitum (1918); A World Requiem for 4 Soloists, Small Boy’s Chorus, Mixed Chorus, and Orch. (1919–21; London, Nov. 11, 1923); choruses; songs.

Writings

Music To-Day: Its Heritage from the Past, and Legacy to the Future (London, 1934).

Bibliography

M. MacDonald, J. K: His Life in Music (London, 1975); idem, J. F., A centenary brochure from Musica Viva (1979); idem, J. F. and His Music (N.Y. and London, 1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Foulds, John (Herbert)

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Foulds, John (Herbert) (b Manchester, 1880; d Calcutta, 1939). Eng. composer and cellist. Son of a professional bassoonist. Studied pf. at 4 and started to compose at 7. Became orch. cellist at 14 and until 20 played in th. bands in Manchester region. Joined Hallé Orch. under Richter in 1900. In 1906 was Eng. composer-delegate to Essen Mus. Fest., where he met Mahler and Strauss, and in 1910 went to Munich for f.p. of Mahler's 8th Sym. Comp. incid. mus. for plays prod. by Lewis Casson. Moved in 1912 to London, where he met and eventually married the actress, musician, and writer Maud MacCarthy (1882–1967). Mus. dir., YMCA National Council 1918–23. From 1919 to 1921 he worked on his World Requiem, for soloists, ch., and orch. This ambitious work was perf. in Royal Albert Hall at Armistice Night commemoration (‘Festival of Remembrance’) in 1923 and for 3 subsequent years. In 1924 wrote incid. mus. for Shaw's Saint Joan. In 1927 Foulds went abroad, returning in 1930. Unable to obtain more than a few perfs., he went to India in 1935 to study folk music. In 1937 he was appointed dir. of mus. for All-India radio in Delhi. Formed radio orch. and Indo-European orch. of traditional Ind. instr. In 1939 was transferred to Calcutta to organize mus. at newly established radio station, but died from cholera after only a few days in new post.

Foulds's mus. was perhaps too eclectic to survive but a body of opinion exists which makes high claims for it. Like Ives he was a tireless experimenter and was ahead of his time in Eng. mus. in working in microtonalities. The modal pf. mus., the str. qt. Quartetto Intimo, the Vc. Sonata, and several songs are splendid mus. and deserve to emerge from oblivion.

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