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Cyril Scott

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Compositions for: Violin

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2 PréludesString Quartet No.1Irish SuiteCherry Ripe2 SonnetsTallahassee, Op.73 No.4Romance, Op.73 No.2Violin Sonata No.1, Op.59Elégie, Op.73 No.1Indian SuitePiano Quartet, Op.16Valse triste, Op.73 No.3Aubade

Arrangements for: Violin

Piano Pieces, Op.67Lullaby, Op.57 No.23 Little Waltzes, Op.58Lotus Land, Op.47 No.1Vesperale, Op.40 No.2
Cyril Meir Scott (27 September 1879 – 31 December 1970) was an English composer, writer, poet, and occultist. He created around four hundred musical compositions including piano, violin, cello concertos, symphonies, and operas. He also wrote around 20 pamphlets & books on occult topics and natural health.
Scott was born in Oxton, Cheshire to a shipper and scholar of Greek and Hebrew, and Mary Scott (née Griffiths), an amateur pianist. He showed a talent for music from an early age and was sent to the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany to study piano in 1892 at age 12. He studied with Iwan Knorr and belonged to the Frankfurt Group, a circle of composers who studied at the Hoch Conservatory in the late 1890s. His first symphony was performed (through the good offices of his friend Stefan George, the great German poet) when he was only twenty years old. He played his Piano Quartet with Fritz Kreisler, Emil Kreuz, and Ludwig Lebell in St. James' Hall in 1903.
In 1902 he met the pianist Evelyn Suart, with whom he had a long artistic association. She championed his music, premiering many of his works, and introducing him to his publisher, Elkin, with whom he remained for the rest of his life. Evelyn Suart was also a Christian Scientist, and it was through her that Scott became interested in metaphysics. Scott dedicated his Scherzo, Op. 25 to Evelyn Suart.
Those who heard Scott play the piano commented on the extraordinary vitality of his playing, above all his always well judged rubato, and subtleties of tone and pedalling. These can be appreciated from the reissue on a Dutton CD (Collected Piano Music, vol. 1) of his performance (in the 1930s) of eight of his own pieces on piano rolls.
Scott married Rose Laure Allatini in May 1921. They had two children: Vivien Mary Scott (born 1923) and Desmond Cyril Scott (born 1926). He separated from Rose following World War II. In 1943, he met Marjorie Hartston, a clairvoyante, who remained his companion until his death, and persuaded him to go on composing, despite the indifference of the musical world to his work. Undeterred, he continued to compose up until the last three weeks of his life, dying at the age of 91. By the time of his death he was remembered for only a few popular pieces (such as Lotus Land) that he had composed over sixty years before. His many books and pamphlets on occultism and alternative medicine always, however, found readers.
The first decade of the new millennium saw a revival of interest in his music, stimulated by a flood of recordings, discussed below.
Scott was a late romantic composer, whose style was at the same time strongly influenced by impressionism. His harmony was notably exotic. If in his early works it was perhaps over-sweet (Alban Berg dismissed his music as 'mushy'), it became steadily more varied and more refined in his later years. Indeed, it is his late works (written between 1950 and his death) that are the most individual, with their ever-shifting harmonic colours.
Scott wrote around four hundred works (though the number is deceptive, since more than half of these were short songs or piano pieces). These include two mature symphonies, three operas, three piano concertos, concertos for violin, cello, oboe and harpsichord, and three double concertos (of which the scores are now lost), several overtures, four oratorios (Nativity Hymn (1913), Mystic Ode (1932), Ode to Great Men (1936), and Hymn of Unity (1947)), as well as a mass of chamber music (four mature quartets, five violin sonatas, three piano trios, and many others). Between 1903 and 1920 Scott wrote copiously for the piano. Most of these pieces were harmonically adventurous for their time and easy to play; they circulated widely in many countries of the world, in contrast to his more ambitious works, none of which received more than a handful of performances.
Scott was called the "Father of modern British music" by Eugene Goossens, and was also appreciated by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, his close friend Percy Grainger, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky. His experiments in free rhythm, generated by expanding musical motifs, above all in his First Piano Sonata of 1909, appear to have exerted an influence on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (see The Cyril Scott Companion, pp. 45–47). He used to be known as 'the English Debussy', though this reflected little knowledge of Scott and little understanding of Debussy.
Among his orchestral compositions, the First Piano Concerto (1913–4), Disaster at Sea (a tone poem on the sinking of the Titanic, composed in 1918–26, and published in a revised version with the title Neptune in 1935), the Violin Concerto (1928), and Neapolitan Rhapsody (published 1959) are the most important. The shorter piano works suffer in the main from unimaginative form and texture, though the five 'Poems' (1912) are an important exception; more worthy of revival are the piano sonatas, especially the innovatory first (1909) and the intricate, wayward third (1956). The largest body of successful work is to be found in his chamber music, the Clarinet Quintet and Trio and the five violin sonatas being especially notable.
The years 2004–10 saw an extraordinary flood of recordings, including 4 CDs of his orchestral music (with the BBC Philharmonic under Martyn Brabbins), his complete piano music played by Leslie De'Ath on Dutton, and recordings of four of his violin sonatas by Clare Howick and Sophia Rahman. His Harpsichord Concerto received its premiere recording in 2011; the soloist was Michael Laus, who also conducted the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra for Cameo Classics. Live performances have been rarer, though the two mature symphonies (now numbered 3 and 4) received premieres in Manchester, the first in 2003 and the second in 2005.
The most recent recording is on Dutton Epoch, with Peter Donohoe and Raphael Wallfisch playing the early Piano Concerto and Cello Concerto respectively in reconstructions and completions by conductor Martin Yates. Yates also conducts the Overture Pelleas and Mellisanda on this recording with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
The Sonatina for Guitar (1927), commissioned by Andrés Segovia, was thought lost and had acquired almost legendary status among guitar historians. Rediscovered in 2001, it was hailed by Angelo Gilardino, Director of the Segovia Museum as "one of the summits of the guitar’s repertoire of the 20th century". Sonatina for Guitar has been recorded by Tilman Hoppstock on the Signum label and published by Bèrben Edizioni Musicali with one of Scott's own paintings on the cover.
Scott took interest in alternative medicine, health foods, occultism, naturopathy, philosophy and yoga. In a series of books and pamphlets, he urged the sick, even those with cancer, to trust diet and alternative medicine and avoid trained medics and surgery. Scott was an alternative cancer treatment advocate and authored two works on this subject. He also recommended people to consume black molasses and cider vinegar.