A selection of articles about Erik Chisholm
|by Kaikhosru Sorabji,1930|
||Erik Chisholm & Kaikhosru Sorabji taken in the 1950s at Corfe Castle
|Of the articles written about Erik Chisholm, few can be more original than "Cappriccio Infantileseo" by Sorabji, a life long friend.|
I love my love with an E because he is
Enticing, Equable, Endearing, Edifying,
I hate him with an E because he is execrable,
Elephantine, egregious, epistemological,
I love him with an R because he is Artful (joke!!!)
Rubicund, rich and rare
I hate hin with an R because he is rednosed,
Rachilic, rude and rebellious
I love him with an I because he is impudent,
Idyllic, innocent, incomparable and ingenuous
I hate him with an I because he is insane
Intolerable, indecorous, indelicate and incorrigible
I love him with a K because he is Katty
Komplaisant, Kareful and Konsoling
I hate him with a K because he has Kollywobbles
Kold feet, Korns and Kramp
He feeds on Earth-worms and lives in
‘Ell and his name is . . . . . . . . . .
The extravagant adjectives are remarkably apt. There are exceptions “elephantine”, “epileptic”. which don't quite fit.
Nobody in our society eats earthworms -and as a committed vegetarian Chisholm certainly wouldn’t- perhaps the reference is to the children’s ditty:
“Nobody loves me Everybody hates me. I’ll go into the garden and eat some worms”
Chisholm may have felt that way now and then; he trod a rather tough path through life.
|Topic>> The Music>> New Recordings>>PCs by Eric (sic) Chisholm|
Earlier this year trawling through the web, I came across an interesting discussion between members of the above organisation.
|Comments & opinions by informed contributors made really interesting reading.|
One main contributor Peter Shott had this to say
"I had been dimly aware of the name Chisholm for some years. But he became a name to be reckoned with after I had read his book on the Janáček opera (marvelous accounts of them!) Note whole book can be read online at Music Web Then for the first time I heard two pieces of orchestral music- the Pictures of Dante and the Ossian Symphony. Like many others I thought these truly stunning things- and hence my excitement…over the projected Hyperion recording."
Then followed comments from 10 different contributors on the main point of the posting which is
What do people think of the Murray McLachlan recordings of solo piano music on Divine Art, of which so far we have 6 volumes with (I think) another 2 to go.
To read more of this fascinating exchange, Google Unsung Composers
Unsung heroes, Making Time
|by Murray McLachlan, Piano, 2003|
|Glasgow born Erik Chisholm was a remarkable human dynamo who had a dramatic influence on British musical life during the 1930s. By founding an ‘Active Society for the Propagation of Contemporary Music’ for the promotion of new music in Glasgow whilst still in his twenties, Chisholm was able to invite Bartók to the UK for the first time. In addition he introduced Scottish audiences to performances of Hindemith, Casella, Medtner, Schmitt, Sorabji, Symanowski and Van Dieren, often under the direction of the authors themselves. He is also remembered as an excellent conductor. Indeed, he was the very first to conduct Berlioz’s ‘The Trojans’ in its complete form (Glasgow 1935). A pupil of Donald Francis Tovey, Chisholm was an inspired lecturer, teacher, essayist and author. He was also a very fine pianist; lessons with Lev Pouishnoff made Chisholm a virtuoso artist well capable of performing his ferociously demanding first concerto and first sonata, possibly an even better organist, and a choir trainer!|
Chisholm’s career began in Glasgow with training at the ‘Athenaeum’ (later to evolve into the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), continued with a couple of years in Nova Scotia as pianist/lecturer/organist (1926-8) then resumed in Scotland thereafter. 1929 saw the birth of his ‘Active Society’; by 1934 he had his D.Mus from Edinburgh and was firmly established as a major personality in Scottish Music, especially as a conductor. The War years were spent with ENSA, latterly as a conductor in Singapore. From 1945 until his untimely death in the mid 60’s he made an extremely important contribution to South African cultural life not only as Dean of the Faculty of Music at Cape Town, but also as guest conductor of the city’s symphony orchestra, as operatic conductor, as broadcaster and as adjudicator. He found time for very ambitious tours to Czechoslovakia where he was awarded a medal for his contribution to Czech music at the 1958 Brno Festival; the USSR (the Soviet Union published Chisholm’s ‘Celtic Folk Songs’ on the recommendation of Shostakovich); the USA (in 1959 he visited 43 centres on a typically exhausting lecture tour!) and other countries, especially the UK. His compulsive workaholic schedule was modeled on the assumption that he would always work a 16-hour day, but even given that amount of effort it seems hard to understand how, in addition to everything listed above and more (space here forbids even a listing of his humanitarian interests and crusades, etc, etc), Chisholm had the time and energy to produce so many original compositions of his own.
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|Erik Chisholm by William McLellan, Con Brio, 1952|
When Erik Chisholm accepted the Professorship of Music at the University of Cape Town at the College of Music a grievous gap was made in Scottish musical life which the country could ill afford, and since his departure has been unable to fill.
||The College of Music, Rosebank, University of Cape Town
|The semi-amateur status in which he was able to operate as a musician in his young days gave him that freedom of action indispensable to the artist which allowed him to direct some of his enormous energy not used in composition into the organisation of a musical life in Glasgow which in the 1930s must have had few equals in Europe in the matter of performances of contemporary music.|
For some years Chisholm directed the Active Society for the Propagation of Contemporary Music. He numbered among his personal friends, Bartók, Hindemith, Delius, Bax, Medtner, Szymanowski, Ireland, Bush and was instrumental in bringing many of them to Glasgow to play their own compositions. A remarkable awareness of what these contemporaries were contributing to the development of new musical forms is apparent in Chisholm's compositions of this period while it is possible to trace counter influences in what appear to be piobaireachd figures in the first movement of Bartók's Third Piano Concerto, no doubt a result of his stay with Chisholm in Glsagow where he bought much pipe music and a chanter.
In opera his achievement was no less unique. As director of the Glasgow Grand Opera Society he produced the first British performances of Mozart's Idomineo and several operas of Berlioz including The Trojans and discriminating music lovers from all over Britain travelled to hear these operas for the first time. A special train indeed was required to bring people from London.
It is, however, as a composer that Erik Chisholm is best known both in Britain and abroad. In sheer output he is before every other British composer under fifty years of age, having four symphonies, over twenty orchestral suites, six ballets, an opera, also piano and choral works to his credit. His technique is remarkable when we consider the complex problems in rhythm and harmony with which he was presented in creating an authentic Scottish form in essential respects freed from foreign influences and it can be be truly said of Chisholm that his contribution to the development of a distinctively Scottish school of musical utterance has not so far had many equals and he fully justifies the title 'Scottish composer'.
His inspiration springs from the roots of our musical culture in the pluck of the Celtic harp, the wild, stirring call of the Great Highland bagpipe, the incomparable melodic sweetness of our folk-song and the rhythms of strathspeys and other Highland Dances. There can be little doubt that Chisholm has succeeded in doing for Scotland what Bartók did for Hungary, and the recent success in such important musical centres as Amsterdam, and Manchester of his Preludes from the True Edge of the Great World, a series of musical sea-scapes depicting the magic of the Hebrides, suggests that he has fashioned a way of presenting in modern form a synthesis of distinctively Scottish musical material which can find a place in the concert halls of the world.
Here, in this seemingly spare, thinly orchestrated material which is characeristic of much of Chisholm's work there is found a peculiar haunting power which is just as moving as the full brass of Wagner or the brilliance of Liszt. The Celtic ability to stimulate the emotions in the quiet unobtrusive way of their race was well expressed by Hugh MacDiarmid when he wrote:
The Rose of all the world is not for me
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet and breaks the heart.
This also Chisholm seems to say in the music of his Scottish period. The very titles of his Preludes - 'Sheiling Lullaby', 'Sea Tangle', 'Rudha Ban', 'Ossianic Lay', 'Puirt-a-Beul', 'Sea Sorrow', 'Reel', and so on, seem to hold something of the spirit they portray - the lonely pipe in the clarinet solo, the brush of the harp in an opening section, the fickle rhythm in the surge of the sea, the cry of the wild fowl, and the skirl of the grace notes on the bagpipe in the piano treble. Here, we feel, is the essence of something which Mendelssohn only vaguely heard in his Fingal's Cave. This is the real thing, captured by a Scot who knew it in his Highland blood.
Erik Chisholm by John McQuaid, Con Brio, 1952
Notes on the Music of Erik Chisholm
That Chisholm is a musician of exceptional ability is proved by reference to reliable criteria: his success, for example, at the International Festival in Amsterdam before his thirtieth year, or the first performance of his First Symphony by the BBC in 1939.
He has long since mastered the larger forms and feels at home in them, conceiving and executing at great speed large designs in the symphony, ballet and opera. This alone should put him in the forefront of contemporary Scottish composers, a distinction which I think he has always (tacitly) claimed. No other of his countrymen has the same range of expression at his command, nor have any of them attempted as he has to forge a new form, viz. the large-scale music-drama danced as ballet, instead of being sung as opera. He is also alone in his attempt to infuse into symphonic structure the forms of Celtic music-lore (eg. the pibroch) as distinct from the introduction into present-day forms of merely discursive Celtic atmosphere. The latter is a much easier task which Chisholm has carried out with distinction in his numerous small works. In the realm of purely formal experimentation, he has also conceived a symphony in which the four elements of sonata movement, exposition of groups A and B, development and recapitulation are each considered as the matter of a complete movement. The third movement of such a work would consist of vast development of the matter of the first two movements, the Finale being a summing-up of all that went before, after the fashion of the cyclic form.
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List of articles
|This is a chronological list of available articles about Erik Chisholm and his music: more will be added as research continues. Many will be found in the Chisholm Papers held at the UCT Manuscript and Archive Library. To view the Chisholm Papers click here|
"Piobaireachd" Concerto & Hindustani Concerto
MICHAEL JONES 2012.
The Piano Music of Erik Chisholm 1904 -1965
John Purser Published in International Piano Magazine March 2012
Watch the Beat - MUSICAL MEMOIRS of Patrick Shannon
The Active Society
A tribute from Divine Art and Murray McLachlan
by Robert Matthew-Walker International Record Review January 2011
Awrite, Erik Chisholm!
With kind permission of the author Grant Chu Covell December 2010.
Erik Chisholm, poem
by John Purser July 20 2010, Cape Town
College of Music Centenary 2010
Shelia Chisholm, Cape Argus, August 2010.
Erik Chisholm and Serge Prokofiev
Fiona McKnight, Music Web International, February 2009
David MacFadyen, BMS News, 119, p37, 2008
Notes Across the Years
Daughters Digging for Dads
Morag Chisholm, BMS News, 119, p37, 2008
Chasing a Restless Muse. Part 2
John Purser, BMS News, 117, p278 - 281, 2008
Chasing a Restless Muse. Part 1
John Purser, BMS News, 116, p233 - 240, 2008
Chisholms Symphony No.2 "Ossian" (1939)
Lewis Foreman, BMS News, 116, p249 - 250, 2007.
Download the article
Paul Abisheganaden, Publ, Unipress: NU Singapore Press, Chapter 10, 2005.
Erik Chisholm and MacPherson’s Night-Song of the Bards;
John Purser, Scottish Studio Review, V16, No 1, p 43-58, 2005
North meets South, East meets West: Piano music by Erik Chisholm and Kaikoshur Sorabji
Michael Jones, BMS News, 108, p392, 2005.
Conductor loved controversy;
Fiona Chisholm, Cape Argus, 23 Jan 2004
Chasing a Restless Muse, Erik Chisholm Centenary Celebration;
Morag Chisholm, BMS News 101, p 139, 2004
Erik Chisholm and some famous Scottish Pianists;
Derek Watson, Lecture: Scottish International Piano Competition, 2004
Knowing the Score;
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 5th Jan, 2004
Erik Chisholm and Piobaireachd;
John Purser, Piping Today, No10, p 46-49, 2004
Erik Chisholm and the Trojans;
Morag Chisholm, Musicweb, 2003
Download the article
Unsung Heroes, Making Time;
Murray McLachlan, Piano, vol 11, p 32-33, 2003
Erik Chisholm Trust;
Morag Chisholm, BMS News 95, p 310, 2002
The Opera of Erik Chisholm;
Morag Chisholm, BMS News 88, p114, 2000
The Piobaireachd Concerto by Erik Chisholm;
Morag Chisholm, BMS News 88, p 113-114, 2000
A Peek into Erik Chisholm’s Archives;
Colin Scott-Sutherland, British Music, Vol 21, p 67-71, 1999
British Symphonists: Erik Chisholm
Schaarwachter,J., BMS News, 77, p142 - 3, 1998
Erik Chisholm (1904-1968);
Alistair Hinton, Jagger Journal, No.10, p 12-17, 1996
Erik Chisholm: A Puck among the Professors; Fiona Chisholm, Jagger Journal No 10, p 20-35, 1989/1990
Recollections of Dr Erik Chisholm;
Desiree Talbot, & Gregorio Fiasconaro, Jagger Journal No.10, p 18-19, 1989/1990
The Trojans 1935; Ian Kemp, Les Troyens ed Ian Kemp, p 6-7, 1988
You did not say no to Dr Chisholm;
Fiona Chisholm, The Cape Times, University of Cape Town 150 Supplement, 1979
Watch the Beat Musical Memories of Patrick Shannon;
Patrick Shannon, Chapter 6, p 20-24 1975
Dr Erik Chisholm: A retrospective Profile;
David Galloway, Opus Vol.1 No.4, p 4-6 1966
Dr Erik Chisholm: an appreciation;
Agnes Walker, The Edinburgh Tatler, Aug 1965
The Glasgow Grand Opera Society;
Raymond Ward, Glasgow Illustrated, 1965
Erik Chisholm: A Tribute;
Ken Wright, The Composer, No.17, 1965
Chaucer into Opera;
G. Pulvermacher, Opera Vol.13 1962
Busy Dr Chisholm polishes off 11th;
Musical Personalities V, Professor Erik Chisholm;
Stanley Glasser, Res Musicae, Vol 7, No.1, p 5-6 1960
Talking About Music;
Sidney Harrison, Reynold’s Sunday News, 1957
Celtic Song Book provides a striking programme;
Lecture, given Cape Town, 1956
Scottish Composers 1;
William MacLellan, & John McQuaid, Con Brio, Vol 1, No 3, 1952
Orchestral works by Scottish Composers;
John McQuaid, Music and Drama, p 55-61 1950
John McQuaid, The Scotsman, 1950
A Front Rank Scottish Composer: Erik Chisholm;
William Saunders, The Sackbut, p45-47, 1933
William Beatton Moonie - an interim worklist
Article by Dr Jürgen Schaarwächter in BMS News, 85. 2000
The Hardest Working Man in Singapore;
Alan Gordon, 1946
Bombay Man’s Diary, Chisholm’s arrival in Bombay;
Bombay Newspaper 1946
A Thoroughly National Composer: Erik Chisholm; Tone Poet of the Highlands;
Basil Hogarth, The Scottish Musical Magazine, Vol XI, No.11, pp. 197 1930