Clarke and Busch Piano Music – Quality, not Quantity

Simon Callaghan plays piano a program of piano music by two British composers who didn’t write a lot of it. But what they did write was exceptional.

William Busch had a promising career before WWII as a pianist and composer. His pacifism curtailed that career in Britain. And with his early death in 1945, his music remained neglected after the war. Like his friend Gerald Finzi, Busch composed slowly and carefully. He completed a total of five solo piano works. 

Rebecca Clarke was a virtuoso violist who spent most of her career working in the United States. She lived longer than Busch, dying at age 94. And she composed over 100 works. With few exceptions, she focused on chamber music, choral music, and songs. Clarke wrote three solo piano works, including a Cortège for William Busch.

Their styles are complementary. Busch’s music requires a higher level of piano technique. He also seems more interested in writing “pure” music, devoid of any national character. Clarke was a student of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Her works retain a certain Englishness, especially in their melodies. 

Simon Callaghan handles both styles with equal aplomb. He has the technique to play Busch’s music with accuracy and expressiveness. He adopts an even more lyrical tone with Clarke’s works. His playing brings out the beauty in her sometimes-wistful melodies. 


Rebecca Clarke, Williams Busch
Complete Piano Music
Simon Callaghan, piano
Lyrita SRCD 408

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