Arnold Bax

1883 - 1953



Bax attended the Royal Academy of Music (1900 – 05) where he studied composition with Corder. Whilst at the RAM he developed a commanding piano technique but had no inclination to pursue a career as a performer. In the peace after World War I, he became one of the leading younger composers of the day, a position reinforced by performances of the significant new works he had written during the war. During the 1920s, at the height of his success, he completed his first three symphonies, some choral works, a variety of shorter pieces and chamber music. Although he was briefly considered the leading British symphonist, the première of his Fifth Symphony (15 January 1934) was shortly followed by premières of Vaughan Williams's Fourth Symphony (10 April 1935) and Walton's First Symphony (incomplete, 3 December 1934; complete, 6 November 1935). In the late 1930s Bax wrote less and less, remarking that he wanted to ‘retire, like a grocer’. His knighthood in 1937 came as a surprise to him, as did the post of Master of the King's Music in 1942.


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