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Scott, Cyril (Meir) (1879-1970)

Scott, Cyril (Meir) (1879-1970)

Eminent British composer, librettist, poet, author, and Theosophist. He was born on September 27, 1879, at Oxton, Birkenhead, England. He studied music at Frankfort-on-Main, Germany. He was only 21 when his Heroic Suite was first performed at Darmstadt, Germany, and launched him on a successful music career. He wrote for the piano, on which he also performed capably, as well as composing orchestral pieces, chamber and choral works, and violin studies. He composed an opera, The Alchemist, a ballet and a cantata, and songs and ballads. In addition he published several volumes of his poetry: The Celestial Aftermath, The Vales of Unity, and The Voice of the Ancient.

Scott was an outspoken Theosophist, and he gave much thought to the occult meanings of music, a topic to which only a few, for example, Corinne Helene, had given any consideration. He published his conclusions in the book Music; Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages (1933; enlarged ed. 1950), a volume dedicated to "Master Koot Hoomi Lal Singh and his pupil Nelsa Chaplin." It dealt with occult aspects of musical inspiration and the effects on the morals and aesthetics of different periods in history.

He also authored a series of books on the occult: The Initiate (1920), The Initiate in the New World (1927), and The Initiate in the Dark Cycle (1932). His autobiography, Memoirs, Entitled My Years of Indiscretion, appeared in 1924. He died December 31, 1970.

Sources:

Scott, Cyril. The Adept of Galilee. N.p., 1920.

. Bone of Contention N.p., 1969.

. The Christian Paradox. N.p., 1942.

. The Initiate. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1920; York Beach, Maine: St. Weiser, 1977.

. The Initiate in the Dark Cycle. N.p., 1932; 1977. Reprint, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1991.

. The Initiate in the New World. N.p., 1927; 1977. Reprint, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1991.

. Memoirs, Entitled My Years of Indiscretion. N.p., 1924.

. An Outline of Modern Occultism. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1935. Reprint, New York: Dutton, 1950.

. The Vision of the Nazarene. N.p., 1933.

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Scott, Cyril (Meir)

Scott, Cyril (Meir) (b Oxton, 1879; d Eastbourne, 1970). Eng. composer, poet, and pianist. Settled in Liverpool 1898 as pf. teacher. Composed Heroic Suite, cond. Richter in Liverpool and Manchester 1900, and First Sym. perf. in Darmstadt same year. Pf. quintet perf. London 1901 and 2nd Sym. (later rev. as 3 Symphonic Dances) cond. Wood 1903. Through terms of publisher's contract, wrote many short pf. pieces in impressionist style which earned him title of ‘English Debussy’ and reputation as miniaturist. Other works incl. vn. sonata (1908–10), notable for constant changes of time-signature, La Belle Dame sans merci for ch. and orch. (1915–16), opera The Alchemist (prod. Essen 1925), 2 other operas, sym. The Muses, (1939), 2 pf. concs. (1913–14, 1958), 3 vn. concs. (1927, 1935), 2-vn. conc., vc. conc., The Ballad of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel, bar., orch., 4 str. qts., 3 pf. sonatas, and 2 str. trios. Also wrote poetry and philosophical and medical books. Taught Rubbra comp.

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Scott, Cyril (Meir)

Scott, Cyril (Meir)

Scott, Cyril (Meir), remarkable English composer; b. Oxton, Cheshire, Sept. 27, 1879; d. Eastbourne, Dec. 31, 1970. He was a scion of a cultural family; his father was a classical scholar, his mother a fine amateur musician. Having displayed a natural penchant for music as a child, he was sent to Frankfurt am Main at age 12 to study with Uzielli and Humperdinck, remaining there for a year and a half before returning to England; he once again went to Frankfurt am Main in 1895 to study piano and theory with Iwan Knorr. In 1898 he went to Liverpool as a teacher. In 1900 Hans Richter conducted Scott’s Heroic Suite, in Liverpool and Manchester; also in 1900, his first Sym. was played in Darmstadt; his overture Pelléas and Mélisande was performed in Frankfurt am Main. His second Sym. (1902) was given at a Promenade Concert in London on Aug. 25, 1903. (It was later converted into 3 Symphonic Dances.) His setting of Keats’s La Belle Dame sans merci for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. was premiered in London in 1916. His opera The Alchemist (1917), for which he wrote his own libretto, was premiered in Essen on May 28, 1925. In 1920 Scott traveled to the U.S. and played his first Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orch. under Stokowski (Nov. 5, 1920). However, Scott acquired fame mainly as a composer of some exotically flavored piano pieces, of which Lotus Land became a perennial favorite; Fritz Kreisler arranged it for violin and piano, and played it repeatedly at his concerts. Other popular piano pieces were Danse negre, Chinese Serenade, Russian Dance, Sphinx, Autumn Idyll, Berceuse, Little Russian Suite, Indian Suite, Spanish Dance, and most particularly the ingratiating suite Impressions of the Jungle Book, after Kipling. He also wrote over 100 songs. In all these pieces, Scott showed himself a master of musical miniature; he wrote in a distinctly modern idiom, very much in the style of French Impressionism; employed sonorous parallel progressions of unresolved dissonant chords; made frequent use of the whole-tone scale. His writing for piano is ingratiating in its idiomatic mastery; his harmonious modalities exude an aura of perfumed euphony. Among his other works are 2 more operas, The Saint of the Mountain (1925) and Maureen O’Mara (1946), 3 ballets, The Incompetent Apothecary (1923), Karma (1926), and The Masque of the Red Death (1932), Christmas Overture (London, Nov. 13, 1906), La Princesse Maleine, symphonic poem (London, Aug. 22, 1907), 3 violin concertos (1927, c. 1935, c. 1935), Cello Concerto (1931), Harpsichord Concerto (1937), Sym. No. 3, The Muses (1939), Oboe Concerto (1946), Sinfonietta for Strings, Organ, and Harp (1954), Neapolitan Rhapsody for Orch. (1960), Sinfonietta for Strings (1962), numerous overtures and suites, Natizrity Hymn for Chorus and Orch. (1913), The Ballad of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel for Baritone and Orch. (1925), Rima’s Call to the Birds for Soprano and Orch. (1933), Let Us Now Praise Famous Men for Chorus and Orch. (1935), Ode to Great Men for Tenor and Orch. (1936), Hymn of Unity for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1946), more than 100 songs, Piano Quartet (1900), 4 string quartets (1920, 1958, 1960, 1968), 3 piano trios (1920, 1950, 1957), 2 piano quintets (1924, 1952), 2 string trios (1931, 1949), Cello Sonata (1950), Clarinet Quintet (1953), Flute Sonata (1961), 3 piano sonatas (1910, 1932, 1956), and 160 other piano pieces. From his early youth, Scott was attracted to occult sciences, and was a believer in the reality of the supernatural; he publ. books and essays on music as a divinely inspired art, and inveighed violently against jazz as the work of Satan. Among his books, all publ. in London, are The Philosophy of Modernism in Its Connection with Music (1917), The Initiate Trilogy (1920, 1927, 1935), My Years of Indiscretion (1924), The Influence of Music on History and Morals: A Vindication of Plato (1928), Music: Its Secret Influence through the Ages (1933; aug. ed., 1958), An Outline of Modern Occultism (1935), The Christian Paradox (1942), an autobiographical vol., Bone of Contention (1969), and 2 books on medical matters, Medicine, Rational and Irrational (1946) and Cancer Prevention (1968).

Bibliography

A. Hull, C. S.: Composer, Poet and Philosopher (London, 1918; third ed., 1921); I. Parrott , C. S. and his Piano Music (London, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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