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Hamilton Harty

Hamilton Harty: Musical Polymath

Jeremy Dibble
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Hamilton Harty
    Book Description:

    Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941) is best known as the conductor of the Hallé Orchestra. As its Principal Conductor between 1920 and 1933, Harty arguably made Manchester the most important focus for music in Britain, since the Hallé were considered to be the finest orchestra in the country. A great exponent of Mozart and especially Berlioz, Harty was also a keen exponent of British music. This book chronicles and analyses Harty's emergence as a conductor between 1910 and 1920, when he did much of his conducting with the LSO in London (in part through his acquaintance with Hans Richter); Harty's tenure at the Hallé; and his departure in 1933, when he became effectively freelance as a conductor. From his first American tour in 1931, Harty became an active supporter of American composers such as Gershwin, and he regularly performed in the US throughout the 1930s. His health began to decline seriously in the late 1930s, and he died from cancer in 1941 at the age of only 61. Arriving in London in 1901 without any qualifications, Harty established himself quickly as London's premiere accompanist. His considerable reputation as a pianist brought him into contact with the great instrumental performers of his age such as Fritz Kreisler, as well as a vast array of singers both native and continental. The book also looks at his life as a composer of orchestral and chamber works and songs, notably before the First World War. Although Harty's music cleaved strongly to a late nineteenth-century musical language, he was profoundly influenced during his days in Ulster and Dublin by the Irish literary revival. Harty's conducting career, his role in the exposition of standard and new repertoire and his relationship with contemporary composers and performers provides a major focus for this book, against the perspective of other important major British conductors such as Sir Thomas Beecham, Malcolm Sargent or Sir Henry Wood. The book discusses why Harty largely remained an orchestral and choral conductor rather than an operatic one, and it also analyses in detail the controversies he provoked on the subjects of women orchestral players, jazz, modernism, and the music of Berlioz, among others. JEREMY DIBBLE is Professor of Music at Durham University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-181-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Music Examples
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. CHAPTER 1 1879–1901 Hillsborough, Belfast and Dublin: A Musical Apprenticeship
    (pp. 1-22)

    At the end of the nineteenth century the patronage of churches within the Anglican Communion was a common phenomenon. Many enjoyed the benefaction of wealthy Oxford and Cambridge colleges to pay the salaries of their incumbents and for the upkeep of church fabric – links that are still in many cases maintained today. Many village churches with a strong connection to adjacent landed families were generously supported; indeed, the provision of the church itself might well have come from the family coffers, the church obliging by acting as an appropriate burial place for their ancestors. One such edifice was the church...

  8. CHAPTER 2 1901–9 London (1): A Pre-eminent ‘Collaborator’ and Aspiring Composer
    (pp. 23-71)

    In moving to England, Harty counted himself among a steady trickle of artists who left Ulster to join the ever-expanding Irish diaspora overseas. Belfast had outstripped Dublin as the industrial capital of Ireland, and, with its predominant Protestant work ethic and expanding middle classes, it valued the rewards of growing individual wealth engendered by the burgeoning professions of finance, medicine and engineering (particularly maritime). However, that wealth did not translate into a propensity for the visual arts, the written word or music-making. Consequently, without the necessary infrastructure or patronage, musicians like Harty followed in the footsteps of Arthur O’Leary, Charles...

  9. CHAPTER 3 1909–14 London (2): Composer and Conductor
    (pp. 72-116)

    It is perhaps telling that, in the supplement to the second edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, published in the fifth volume in 1911 and compiled by its editor, J. A. Fuller Maitland, Harty appears for the first time, acknowledged for his exploits as a composer and as ‘one of the best of accompanists.’¹ Certainly by 1909 Harty’s reputation as a musician had become pre-eminent, which meant that he was called upon to perform a broad variety of social duties that extended beyond the purely artistic. He was asked to be judge for a competition to select a...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER 4 1914–20 The War Years and After
    (pp. 117-141)

    With the outbreak of war, Harty, like so many other active musicians, gave time to charitable concerts for the YMCA, the Belgian Relief Fund and the Red Cross. This replaced, to some extent, a decline in his professional work as an accompanist. Fortunately engagements for orchestral concerts continued to be buoyant. In Manchester, major changes in musical personnel had arisen because of hostilities. Michael Balling, the Hallé Orchestra’s permanent conductor, had gone to Bavaria after the Westmorland Festival for rehearsals at Bayreuth, and was at Partenkirchen when war was announced. Gustav Behrens, a prominent member of the Hallé’s Board of...

  12. CHAPTER 5 1920–27 The Hallé Years
    (pp. 143-187)

    Harty’s contract (which he always accepted as a gentleman’s agreement)¹ was initially a fee of 650 guineas (about £30,000 by today’s money) for thirty concerts, and for each additional concert, 25 guineas. The Manchester season, it was agreed, would consist of eighteen concerts, the traditional performance of Messiah at Christmas, and a concert for the orchestra’s Pension Fund.² It was also agreed that Harty would be free to continue his engagements with other orchestras in London, Leeds and elsewhere (which included a new appointment as a joint conductor at the North Staffordshire Choral Society),³ provided they did not impinge on...

  13. CHAPTER 6 1927–33 Apogee: From Hallé to the LSO
    (pp. 188-222)

    In May 1927 Manchester mourned the passing of Langford, who had followed the progress of the Hallé since the days of Richter. Harty was reputed to have stayed away from the funeral. ‘Why should I go to the funeral of that – market gardener?’, was his anecdotal reply (making reference to Langford’s predilection, like that of his father, for horticulture).¹ Langford’s place was taken by Neville Cardus, who was already well known to readers of the Manchester Guardian for his imaginative prose and his columns on cricket and the theatre. His admiration for Langford’s work was considerable, and as a tribute...

  14. CHAPTER 7 1933–6 America and Australia: An Unforeseen Romance
    (pp. 223-259)

    In January and February of 1933 Harty fulfilled engagements as guest conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra. Travelling over on the Mauretania he had to hurry to be with the Cleveland Orchestra for their first pair of symphony concerts on 5 and 7 January in Severance Hall.¹ In the Cleveland press, Adelle Prentiss Hughes, the manager of the orchestra, was heard to comment: ‘“You were fortunate to arrive as early as you did. … Fortune must have been with you and the ship.” “I’ll say fortune was with them,” he [Harty] laughed. “The Mauretania brought over...

  15. CHAPTER 8 1936–41 The Last Years: The Children of Lir – A Creative Codicil
    (pp. 260-298)

    Harty often holidayed in Ireland during the months of May and June and 1936 was no exception. Although he usually frequented Donaghadee, Rostrevor or Carlingford Lough close to the Mourne mountains, on this occasion he spent the summer at Portballintrae, a delightful seaside village east of Portrush and west of the ‘Giant’s Causeway, rich in views and a bracing seascape. In England, perhaps in his favourite spot at Lambrigg, he had planned a period of quietness to fulfil a request from Universal (who had done well from his Handel transcriptions) to orchestrate some of Chopin’s piano music; there was also...

  16. APPENDIX 1 List of Works
    (pp. 299-307)
  17. APPENDIX 2 List of Recordings
    (pp. 308-329)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 330-334)
  19. Index of Harty’s Works
    (pp. 335-336)
  20. General Index
    (pp. 337-367)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 368-369)