Join us for a FREE BBC Radio 3 Invitation Concert with the Ulster Orchestra at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on 29 February 2024.
This spectacular event will celebrate Sir Charles Villiers Stanford ahead of the centenary of his death – 29 March 1924.
Born in Dublin, Stanford was educated at Cambridge and later in Germany, and in 1882 he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music in London: a position he held for more than 40 years. The Anglo-Irish romantic not only received widespread recognition for his work as a prolific composer but also as the teacher of a talented generation of composers including Bridge, Butterworth, Coleridge-Taylor, Gurney, Howells, Vaughan Williams and Charles Wood. He was also hailed as a conductor – with appointments including Conductor of the London Bach Choir, the Leeds Philharmonic Society and the Leeds Festival – and as a mark of his accomplishments, his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey close to the remains of Purcell.
Stanford was especially known for his orchestral works, which include seven symphonies and five Irish Rhapsodies.
This concert, conducted by Brazilian Eduardo Strausser, opens with the first of his 6 Irish Rhapsodies, written in 1902 for the Norwich Festival. Incorporating the Londonderry Air it achieved particular popularity and is dedicated to the Hungarian-born conductor Hans Richter.
In the Autumn of 1873, Stanford visited Bonn to attend the Schumann Festival and it was there that he met Brahms. His admiration for Brahms is well documented, but that didn’t hinder his exploration of the modernist camps of the time – most notably the music of Liszt and Wagner. Indeed, he was a huge fan of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. Both Wagner and Brahms make up the remainder of this concert: the popular symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, first performed as a birthday gift for his wife in 1870, and the Fourth Symphony by Brahms. For all its warmth and beauty, the work is tragic in character and a highly engaging listen.