Arthur Bliss


Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss, CH, KCVO (2nd August 1891-27th March 1975) was a British composer. Born to an American father and English mother, Bliss went to Bilton Grange Preparatory School and Rugby before going up to Cambridge. He was destined to display characteristics of both nations, his profound romanticism balanced by an unquenchable energy and optimism. After studying at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford, he served as an infantry officer in the First World War. With the return of peace, Bliss’s career took off rapidly as a composer of what were, for British audiences, startlingly new pieces often for unusual ensembles, such as a concerto for wordless tenor voice, piano and strings, and Rout for soprano and chamber orchestra, in which the voice sings phonetic sounds rather than words. Much of his early music shows the influence of Stravinsky and Debussy. A landmark was his Colour Symphony of 1922 which explores the idea of the musical associations of different colours. From the late twenties onwards Bliss moved more into the traditional English scene with choral works such as Pastoral and Morning Heroes, and in the 1930s he wrote the music for the film Things to Come and the ballet Checkmate. Bliss was always an ambitious, prolific composer, and some of his works were clearly intended for a wider international audience than they actually received. The Introduction and Allegro and the Piano Concerto are examples, the concerto being premier...

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