You have been without Fuga, the Society Newsletter for over a year now, for several reasons: there has been no news, no editor, and Marjorie Stevenson who sorts out the material for copy for the newsletter has been unable to continue due to bouts of ill health.
We, the RSS Committee, wish to apologise because you have all been such loyal supporters over the last twenty years. We feel this especially as, since Ronald’s 80th Birthday Celebrations in 2008, there has also been no Summer School at the Isle of Cumbrae.
The Summer School seems to have run its course because there is no-one to organise it now that Ronald and Marjorie are unable to do so. We can only hope that some young enthusiasts may turn up eventually to revitalise the idea in the not too distant future.
It might indeed seem to some that The Ronald Stevenson Society itself has run its course, but we are pleased to tell you that in spite of all these setbacks our programme of typesetting and sales of music continue steadily; this is after all our raison d’être. A list of our publications over the last eighteen months appears on our website and at the end of this newsletter. Thanks to your subscriptions, and one or two sponsorships for typesetting specific pieces of interest to individual members, our programme of typesetting Ronald’s music continues. The Society has no expenses other than the running costs of the computer and postage of the Newsletter. The Committee will be meeting to discuss the future form of the Society.
One of our main objectives in the near future is to donate copies of the Ronald Stevenson Society publications to the music libraries of the British colleges of music so that this music is seen to be available.
If you feel that you can continue to support our programme of publication we shall be most grateful. In this issue, we are delighted to tell you about Comrades in Art, a new book containing the Correspondence of Ronald Stevenson & Percy Grainger, and much more; and also an update on the triple CD recording project of some of Ronald’s piano music, played by Murray McLachlan.
REVIEW -Shostakovich and Comrades, Murray McLachlan, piano. Divine Art DDA 25080
The new series of Russian Piano Music from Divine Art begins auspiciously with a volume devoted to Shostakovich and Comrades, a single disc, which includes some exceptional examples of twentieth-century works for piano. At the core of this recording are the two piano sonatas of Shostakovich, which receive a fine reading by Murray McLachlan and also benefit from the context created in this CD through related works.
The British composer Ronald Stevenson offers a further perspective on the lyrical piano piece in his Recitative and Air (DSCH)…
This set of variations is simultaneously a tribute to Shostakovich and a highly evocative work on its own merits. In a recording focused on Shostakovich and his comrades, Stevenson’s piece is a highly effective addition to the already innovative program.
Comrades in Art
The Correspondence of Ronald Stevenson & Percy Grainger, 1957-61, with Interviews, Essays & other Writings on Grainger by Ronald Stevenson. Edited by Teresa Balough.
Published by Toccata Press. www.toccatapress.com
In 1957 the Australian-American composer Percy Grainger, then 75 and in failing health, received a letter from another pianist-composer, the young Ronald Stevenson, writing from his home in West Linton, below Edinburgh. That first contact – requesting Grainger’s reminiscences of Ferruccio Busoni, with whom he had studied – led to an exchange of 32 letters over the four years before Grainger’s death in February 1961.
The two men soon found that, despite their 46-year agedifference, they had many affinities. Both were pianists of staggering abilities and composers who combined a love for folkmusic and working-class art with an aesthetic that proposed a `world music’ to include the farthest reaches of humanity. Both made an art of piano transcription of a wide variety of works and were champions of little-known music and composers. And both revered the work of Walt Whitman, that great poet of inclusivity, the pioneering spirit and the open road.
This book presents both the complete Grainger-Stevenson correspondence and Ronald Stevenson’s many articles and lectures on Grainger and his music, edited by Teresa Balough, whose two interviews with Stevenson open and close the volume – which includes a CD of a lecture-recital on Grainger that Stevenson presented in Grainger’s home in White Plains, New York, in 1976.
This book appears as part of two Toccata Press series. The first, Musicians in Music, brings together the writings of important composers, performers and writers, often appearing for the first time in English and sometimes never before assembled in any language. Musicians in Letters presents authoritative editions of the correspondence of leading composers and performers; the series was inaugurated with The Villa-Lobos Letters and will continue with Martinu’s Letters Home: Fifty Years of Correspondence with Family and Friends.
Teresa Balough is an Adjunct Professor of Music at Eastern Connecticut State University. She received her bachelor and masters degrees in music at the University of Kentucky and a PhD in musicology from the University of Western Australia with a thesis on The Essential Grainger: Percy Grainger’s Kipling Settings. Her first publication, in 1975, was A Complete Catalogue of the Works of Percy Grainger and she has since written numerous articles, monographs and books on Grainger. She has completed a Life and Works of Percy Grainger which awaits publication.
She resides in Old Lyme, Connecticut, with her husband Owen Peagler, and their daughter Kirin.
This is a welcome addition to the Grainger literature in this fiftieth anniversary of his death. […] there is much to enjoy and to think about from the pen and voice of a very fine composer
[…] reflecting and illuminating our understanding of Grainger. […] the book is beautifully produced, with many attractive and revealing illustrations. DELIUS SOCIETY JOURNAL
Comrades in Art is a highly entertaining portrait of two composers: Percy Grainger and Ronald Stevenson. … [A] must have for the Grainger enthusiast. The book is attractive in organization and content… . Comrades in Art is more than just the correspondence between two composers. It is a study of the music of Grainger and its place in music culture through the
eyes of a scholarly admirer. TEMPO
Ronald Stevenson proves himself an eloquent Grainger devotee, in his writings, in interview with Teresa Balough, and on the accompanying CD, noting the connection between Grainger and Busoni, the shared devotion he had to Whitman, and delight in Kipling. Stevenson is clearly a pianist in the Grainger manner, robust and forthright. It is a joy to hear on the CD his completion of the newly-named ‘Harlem Walkabout’, an extended tribute in Gardineriana Rhapsody to the composer Balfour Gardiner, and a very earthly version of Country Gardens. MUSIC & VISION DAILY
The subsequent, if short, correspondence ranged widely and they discovered common interests, folk music and the poetry of Walt Whitman among them. Perhaps Grainger’s most astonishing claim is that he was the real pioneer in most aspects of modern music. […] There is a lot of material available about Grainger and this unabashed tribute is a complement to that.
And we get to make closer acquaintance with Ronald Stevenson along the way. FANFARE Fascinating and entertaining reading… The men correspond with a style and grace that seems remote in this e-mail age… Reading these letters… will have you fired up about two underappreciated musical free-thinkers. SCOTSMAN
Murray McLachlan 3-CD project
An update from Jim Pattison
On the morning of September 1st, 2011, a package arrived from Stephen Guy and the Recording Team at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, containing three CDs which are the final proofs of this project. We are now in the final stage of production of this permanent tribute to Ronald Stevenson through his piano music.
Stephen Sutton, Managing Director of The Divine Art Group, writes:“The proposed 2-CD set of piano music by Ronald Stevenson, performed by Murray McLachlan, has morphed into a splendid 3-CD set – each over 70 minutes in duration. I’ve therefore moved it into the appropriate category and the catalogue number will NOT be 21217 as originally stated, but DDA21372.
We are working with a budget shortfall owing to the ‘expansion’ of the project, and while times are hard… I have confirmed to Jim that I would make up the balance in some way or other. I have already calculated the extra manufacturing printing costs necessary because a 3-CD set needs to be in a more expensive, double-width case requiring a second printed tray insert, but this is in progress.
It is hoped that the set will be ready for release early in 2012.
The music that has been recorded by Murray McLachlan is:
1 Bach-Stevenson: Komm, süsser Tod, BWV478
2 Prelude and Chorale (an Easter Offering)
‘L’Art Nouveau du Chant Appliqué au Piano’, Volume One:
3 ‘Eléanore’ Coleridge Taylor-Stevenson
4 ‘So we’ll go no more a-roving’ Maud Valérie White-Stevenson
5 ‘Plus blanche que la plus blanche ermine ‘Meyerbeer-
6 ‘In the silent night’ Rachmaninoff-Stevenson
7 ‘Go not, happy day’ Bridge-Stevenson
‘L’Art Nouveau du Chant Appliqué au Piano’, Volume Two:
8 ‘Fly home little heart Ivor Novello-Stevenson
9 ‘We’ll gather lilacs’ Ivor Novello-Stevenson
10 ‘Demande et Réponse’ Samuel Coleridge-Taylor-Stevenson
11 ‘Will you remember’ Sigmund Romberg-Stevenson
12 Scottish Ballad no. 1, ‘Lord Randal’
13 Fugue on a fragment of Chopin
Pensées sur les Préludes de Chopin:
14 I – Agitato
15 II – Lento funebre
16 III – Andantino (alla Mazurka)
17 IV – Lento sostenuto
18 V – Allegro agitato, con urgenza
19 VI – Non agitato
20 Variations-study on a Chopin Waltz
21 Etudette d’Après Korsakov et Chopin
Three Contrapuntal Studies on Chopin Waltzes:
22 I – Waltz in A flat op 34 no. 1 for right hand alone
23 II -Waltz in A flat op. 42 for left hand alone
24 Nos. 1 and 2 combined for two hands
Le Festin d’Alkan: Concerto for solo Piano, without orchestra:
‘Petit concert en forme d’Études’
1 Free composition (Allegro senza allegrezza)
2 Free transcription (Andante ipnotico)
3 Free multiple Variations (Moderato macabre)
Ysaÿe: Violin Sonata 1 in G minor:
4 I – Preludio: Grave (Lento assai)
5 II – Fugato (Molto moderato)
6 III -Allegretto poco scherzoso
7 IV -Finale con brio (Allegro tempo)
Ysaÿe: Violin Sonata 2:
8 I -Obsession (Prelude Poco Vivace)
9 II – Malinconia (Poco Lento)
10 III – Danse des ombres: Sarabande (Lento)
11 IV -Les Furies (Allegro Furioso)
12 Norse Elegy For Ella Nygaard (Lento ma con moto, con
13 Canonic Caprice on ‘The Bat’ (Tempo di Valse)
1 Mozart-Stevenson: Fantasy for Mechanical Organ
2 Mozart- Stevenson: Romanze (slow movement of Piano
Concerto in D minor, K466)
3 Melody on a Ground of Glazunov
4 Ricordanza di San Romerio (A Pilgrimage for Piano)
Purcell-Stevenson: Three Grounds:
5 I – Andante quasi Fado
6 II – Andante arioso
7 III -Allegretto
8 Purcell-Stevenson: Toccata
9 Little Jazz Variations on Purcell’s ‘New Scotch Tune’
10 Purcell-Stevenson: Hornpipe
11 The Queen’s Dolour (A farewell) Purcell-Stevenson
12 Valse Charlot
13 Valse Garbot
Three Elizabethan Pieces after John Bull:
14 I – Pavan
15 II – Galliard
16 III – Jig
Recent Ronald Stevenson Society Publications
Fantasy in F minor, Mozart K608 (1952)
| RSS 524 | 16 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 7’ | £9.00 |
Mozart’s wrote this piece for mechanical organ. A recording by
Joseph Banowetz and Ronald Stevenson in Busoni’s version for
two pianos is on RSS 967, Altarus AIR CD9044
A Carlyle Suite (1995)
| RSS 336 | 24 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 35’ | £10.00 |
Recorded by Sheena Nicoll on Rhapsody – Lyric Music of Ronald
Stevenson Dunelm Records DRD 0268
Irish Folk-song Suite (1965)
| RSS 581 | 23 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 10’ | £9.00 |
Preludio con fuga, J S Bach BWV551 (1948)
| RSS 525 | 16 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 7’ | £9.00 |
Harpsichord Sonata (1968)
| RSS 601 | 26 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 18’ | £9.00 |
“Edward” – Scottish Ballad
| RSS 523 | 10 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 6’ | £6.50 |
A transcription of the duet song, Ballade, op75, by Brahms
A Ghanaian Folksong Suite (1965)
| RSS 553 | 9 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 7’ | £7.00 |
Kadenzen für Mozarts Klavier Konzert in D moll, K 466
| RSS 339 | 9 pages | Grade (d) | £6.50 |
A Rosary of Variations on O’Riada’s Irish Folk Mass
| RSS 340 | 16 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 3’ | £9.00 |
Fantasy on Busoni’s Dr Faust (1949)
| RSS 342 | 24 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 11’ | £11.00 |
A revised version of this piece was later incorporated into the
Prelude, Fugue & Fantasy on Busoni’s Faust (1959)
Rigolet Rag (1973)
| RSS 343 | 3 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 2’ | £3.50 |
Fantasia polifonica (1983–84) for harp
| RSS 615 | 20 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 9½’ | £9.00 |
A’e Gowden Lyric (c.1965) for cello and piano
| RSS 246 | 2 pages | Grade (e–m) | Duration 1½’ | £2.50 |
A version of the song for high voice and piano (RSS 734)
Adagio cantabile, for string orchestra and one French horn
| RSS 117 | Grade (d) | Score and parts for hire |
Sinfonia Elegiaca (2010) for Symphony Orchestra
| RSS 118 | 42 A3 pages | Grade (d) | Duration ’ |
Score and parts for hire |
I. Recitative and Air
II. Lament for the Children
IV. Epilogo: Adagissimo barocco
St Mary’s May Songs (1989)
| RSS 122 | Duration 15’ |
Soprano and strings
1. When that the month of May is cumen (Chaucer). Allegro
2. The May Queen (Tennyson). Allegretto
3. Ommaggi a Maggio (Rosetti). Maestoso retorico (ma lirico)
4. Winds of May (Joyce). Allegro con gaiezza
A 20th Century Music Diary (1953–59)
| RSS 310 | 36 pages | Grade (m) | Duration 20’ | £12.00 |
Threepenny Sonatina: Fantasy on themes form Kurt Weill’s
| RSS 345 | 12 pages | Grade (d) | Duration 7’ | £6.00|
Edited, realised and transcribed from a first draft, by Douglas
Nine Haiku, Stevenson (2006), arr. the composer for piano
RSS 526 | 20 pages | Grade (m–d) | Duration 12’ | £10.00|
Texts: School of Bashô, words by Keith Bosley after the Japanese
2. The Fly
3. Gone Away
5. Master and Pupil
6a. Blossoming Cherry: Aubade
A full list of the works of Ronald Stevenson has been compiled by Martin Anderson and can be found in Ronald Stevenson: The Manand His Music, A Symposium edited by Colin Scott-Sutherland.