We know many world-famous outstanding English writers, but this advanced country gave few musicians to the world. And though there were and there are some they are not so famous and known as M.Glinka or P.Tchaikovsky.

In the 16th-17th centuries England conditions were not favourable for the introduction of such serious music as opera.

The birth of the first English opera was prepared in the atmosphere created in aristocratic circles by foreign artists. And it was the Italian singers who, with their virtuosity and vocal art, contributed most to the creation of the musical taste of the English, awakening it in them also a liking for the Italian art of composition. The only really national composer arrived too late to avert the foreign invasion, and lived too short a time to found a tradition. He was Henry Purcell, one of the most glittering stars in the contemporary musical firmament and the greatest master English music has ever known.

The endeavour to create a national musical expression was crystallized in Purcells work in a style both technically and emotionally refined, and imbued with a profoundly English spirit. These, too, are the characteristic of his opera Dido and Aeneas, which is the only real opera among all his works. Purcell composed this work when still under twenty-two years of age. In spite of this the work is mature and compact. Numerous melodic passages are quite obviously absorbed from early English music. Dido and Aeneas has three acts. The work opens with an overture. Purcells predilection for melodiousness is manifested in the opera by the fact that the most expressive scenes are not choruses, but solos, which are literally enveloped by the music of the orchestra.

Purcell died at the age of thirty-six (1659-1695). After his death there was a two-century silence in English music. In 1995 England celebrated the Purcell tercentenary.

Benjamin Britten is the leading composer of his country in the 20-th century. His scenic works are real musical dramas, a world rich and busy, full of nerve and dramatic action. Britten is much more than a mere composer who knows that he wants: he knows that he must want and therefore often chooses very extraordinary means of expression.

During World War II, while living in the United States, he was commissioned to write an opera. This work, Peter Grimes, was successfully produced in the USA and abroad. His courage is immense. No English composer since the 17-th century has dared to set a Shakespeare play as an opera. He wrote Midsummer Nights Dream. Benjamin Brittens realizations of Purcell songs and anthems are available on discs now.

Benjamin Brittenss last opera was Death in Venice. It was composed in 1973. He was not modern in the musical sense of the word, but he was modern in his attitude towards his public. He has been called a peoples composer because he composed music, particularly operas and choral works, that can be sung by ordinary people and by children. Some of his operas, such as Noyes Fludde (Noahs Flood) are performed in churches every year, and people from the surrounding area sing and act in them. The festival which he started in his little home town, Aldeburg, on the North Sea coast of Suffolk, has become one of the most important musical festivals in Europe.

After Britten contemporary English opera can boast of several other interesting composers. Of the older generation is Ralph Vaughan Williams representing in English music the period of romanticism and impressionism.

His pupil Arthur Bliss is primarily a composer of chamber music in which he combines impressionism with modern tendencies. He continued to experiment in usual chamber music combinations of voice, such as his Rhapsody for soprano and tenor with flute, English horn, string quartet and double bass. So far Bliss was interested in the solution of new problems. A great event was the production of the Color Symphony, which consists of four parts: Purple, Red, Blue, and Green. Each movement of the work is based on a colour and its ideological associations for example, purple: royalty, pageantry and death, etc. He had become so sure of himself that he could vary his style and adapt it to the special purpose of each new work.

Benjamin Brittens music, however, is traditionally compared with the works of many of the younger generation of composers. The music of composers like Peter Maxwell Davies, Richard Rodney Benett, John Tavener, and Andrew Lloyd Webber are having considerable influence and popularity abroad.

It is significant that Richard Rodney Benett is a very fine trumpeter and once played the piano in a jazz band. The dividing lines between serious music on the one hand and jazz, pop and folk music on the other, are becoming less and less clear, and the influence that they are having on one another is increasing. Many twentieth-century British composers, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Tipett and Britten, have been attracted and influenced by old English folk songs.

Most musicals and rock operas of Andrew Lloyd Webber, like Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Sunset Boulevard are still hits staged in the best theatres of England, the USA and other countries. In 1992 he was honored with Knight.




I. Read the text. Make sure you understand it. Mark the following statements true or false.

1. English musicians are famous and well known as Russian ones. 2. Many operas were composed during the 16th-17th centuries. 3. Henry Purcell was the only really national composer. 4. He wrote many operas. 5. The dividing lines between serious and folk music are becoming less and less clear. 6. Britten was called a peoples composer because his works can be sung by ordinary people and by children. 7. Arthur Bliss created chamber music in which he combines romanticism with impressionism. 8. Arthur Bliss was a pupil of Henry Purcell. 9. Bliss was interested in the solution of new problems. 10. Colour Symphony consists of five parts: Purple, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green. 11. Musicals and rock operas of English composers are never staged abroad.


II. How well have you read? Can you answer the following questions?

1. What musicians is Great Britain famous for? 2. Who is considered the most outstanding composer? 3. Who created the musical taste of the English people? 4. How many opera did Purcell composed? 5. How is Purcells music characterized by? 6. Why do we call B. Britten a courageous person? 7. Why was he called a peoples composer? 8. Who wrote mainly chamber music? 9. Why is one of Blisss symphonies called the Colour Symphony? 10. What were British composers influenced by? 11. What musical is Andrew Lloyd Webber famous for?


III. Give Russian equivalents of the following phrases:

Tercentenary, virtuosity and vocal art, melodic passages, full of nerve and dramatic action, immense courage, scenic work, a two-century silence, very extraordinary means of expression, songs and anthems, on the one hand, to combine impressionism with modern tendencies, a very fine trumpeter, musical sense of the world, to adapt the style to the special purpose.


IV. Give English equivalents of the following phrases:

, , , , , , , , , , .


VI. Match these musicians with the short description of their contributions

into national and world music, state their nationality:


Hector Berlioz is a ..composer. His works include symphonic

(1803 1869) poems such as Finlandia, a violin concerto and seven



Edvard Grieg is a . composer. International recognition came

(1843 1907) with two sets of Dances. He was director of

The National Conservatoire, New York.


Antonio Vivaldi is a..composer, conductor, and pianist. After the

(1678 1741) 1917 Revolution he immigrated to the USA. His music

is melodious and emotional and includes operas,

symphonies, piano concertos, piano pieces, and songs.


Frederic Chopin is a Romantic composer, the founder of

(1810 1849) modern orchestration.


Jean Christian Sibelius is a composer. Much of his music is small

(1865 1957) scale, particularly his songs, dances, sonatas, and

piano works, strongly identifying with Norwegian

folk music.


: 2015-09-15; : 94.

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