WorldView Episode 23: Charles Villiers Stanford

     An illustrious composer in his own right, Charles Villiers Stanford is mainly remembered as the instructor of some of the most famous classical composers of the last two hundred years. In his 200+ opus works, Villiers Stanford epitomized the traditional European classical style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

     Villiers Stanford was born in Dublin in 1852, the son of a bass singer and a performance pianist. He bounced from teacher to teacher, studying piano, violin, organ and composition in short succession. He was composing by his ninth birthday, and the works were performed in musicals and choir productions as early as three years later. Villiers Stanford studied internationally at Queen’s College and Cambridge, where his compositions grew substantially in length and number. In 1870, the composer joined the Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS) as a committee member and soon reinvigorated the group; for the first time in its thirty year history, the CUMS held an international reputation.  

      At age 29, Villiers Stanford helped found the Royal College of Music, where he would teach composition for the rest of his life. By middle age, the artist had amassed a substantial repertoire built on traditional classical principles; his instruction focused chiefly on the musical styles exemplified in the works of Brahms and other Romantic composers. However, after several decades of success at the end of the 19th century, the first World War marked an end of Villiers Stanford’s serious writing career. His fame was also eclipsed by that of his pupils, including Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. 

      WorldView episode twenty-three (entitled “Somewhere Over the Soundwave”) includes Villiers Stanford’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor”. The piece was completed in 1911, towards the end of the composer’s career. This recording was made by the Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley, and pianist Margaret Fingerhut in 1989. 

 

WorldView Episode Twenty-Three Playlist:

Harold ARLEN, “Over the Rainbow”, {Min Kwon (pf)} – MSR Classics

Mary Ellen CHILDS, “Kilter”, {Stephen Gosling (pf), Blair McMillen (pf)} – AMR

Charles Villiers STANFORD, “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor”, {Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley, Margaret Fingerhut (pf)} – Chandos

 

WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Gabriela Montero and Bright Sheng, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and again at 6PM on Charlottesvilleclassical.org.

 

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