Alexander Goehr (1932-present)

Episodes

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01Inheritance20170911

Goehr discusses inheriting Schoenberg, Boogie-woogie and Monteverdi from his parents.

Donald Macleod discusses Alexander Goehr's inheritance of Schoenberg, Boogie-woogie and Monteverdi from his parents.

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor today.

In this first programme, Sandy discusses his early life. His father, the conductor Walter Goehr had been a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg and become an all-round musician in Berlin when he was headhunted in 1933 by the Gramophone Company (later EMI). The family moved to Buckinghamshire in England where they lived throughout the War. Sandy remembers escaping to the bomb shelter in the garden during air raids; visits to the family home by Michael Tippett; attending the first modern performance of Monteverdi's Vespers, which his father had resurrected; and listening to his father's wide-ranging record collection. When Sandy eventually admitted that he wanted to be a composer, his father actively discouraged him. But it was Walter who was to conduct Sandy's first major work: The Deluge. And it was as a memorial to his father that Sandy was to go on to write his pivotal work, his Little Symphony.

Cities and Thrones and Powers (2011)
BBC Singers, Stephen Cleobury (director), Stephen Disley (organ)

The Deluge, Op 7 (1957)
Claire Booth (soprano), Hilary Summers (contralto), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Oliver Knussen (conductor)

Little Symphony, Op 15 (1963)
London Symphony Orchestra, Norman del Mar (conductor).

02Goehr Studies And Manchester And Paris20170912

Donald Macleod talks to Goehr about his studies in Manchester and Paris.

Donald Macleod discusses with Goehr his studies in Manchester and Paris.

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

Today's programme is about Sandy's student days. He was originally offered a place at Oxford to study classics, but his activities as a conscientious objector and as a member of the Socialist Zionist Association took him to Manchester. There he met the composition teacher Richard Hall and the bond that grew between them resulted in Sandy studying composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music. It was in Manchester that he met fellow musicians who were to become his lifelong friends - Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and John Ogdon. Together they formed the New Music Manchester Group.

Sandy has vivid memories of attending the first UK performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony which was conducted by his father Walter Goehr. Sandy went on to study with Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod in Paris - an experience which challenged everything he thought he had previously known about composition.

Three Pieces, Op 18
John Ogdon (piano)

Romanza for cello and orchestra - V. Andante
Jacqueline du Pre (cello), New Philharmonia Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (conductor)

Pastorals, Op 19 (1965)
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen (conductor)

Two Choruses, Op 14 (1962)
John Alldis Choir, Melos Ensemble.

Donald Macleod talks to Goehr about his studies in Manchester and Paris.

Donald Macleod discusses with Goehr his studies in Manchester and Paris.

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

Today's programme is about Sandy's student days. He was originally offered a place at Oxford to study classics, but his activities as a conscientious objector and as a member of the Socialist Zionist Association took him to Manchester. There he met the composition teacher Richard Hall and the bond that grew between them resulted in Sandy studying composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music. It was in Manchester that he met fellow musicians who were to become his lifelong friends - Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and John Ogdon. Together they formed the New Music Manchester Group.

Sandy has vivid memories of attending the first UK performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony which was conducted by his father Walter Goehr. Sandy went on to study with Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod in Paris - an experience which challenged everything he thought he had previously known about composition.

Three Pieces, Op 18
John Ogdon (piano)

Romanza for cello and orchestra - V. Andante
Jacqueline du Pre (cello), New Philharmonia Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim (conductor)

Pastorals, Op 19 (1965)
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen (conductor)

Two Choruses, Op 14 (1962)
John Alldis Choir, Melos Ensemble.

03Middle Years20170913

Donald Macleod talks to Alexander Goehr about his time at the BBC.

Donald Macleod discusses with Goehr working at the BBC and his formation of the Music Theatre Ensemble

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

This programme is about the middle years of Sandy's life when he was finding his own unique musical path. He describes the dialogue he had with Pierre Boulez as to whether music at this point in history needed to draw a line under the past and start anew, or should regard itself as part of an ongoing continuum. In the early 1960s he worked for the BBC and then taught at Boston, Yale and Leeds. He formed the Music Theatre Ensemble, the first ensemble devoted to what has become an established musical form.

Das Gesetz der Quadrille (The Law of the Quadrille) - Songs after Kafka, Op 41 (1979)
Susan Kessler (mezzo-soprano), Roger Vignoles (piano)

Paraphrase on the dramatic madrigal Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda by Monteverdi, Op 28 (1969)
Alan Hacker (clarinet)

Behold the Sun (1985)
London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen (conductor)

... a musical offering (JSB 1985)
London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen (conductor)

I Squeezed up the Stair - from 'Sing, Ariel', Op 51 (1990)
Lucy Shelton (soprano), Instrumental Ensemble, Oliver Knussen (conductor).

04Teaching20170914

Alexander Goehr discusses his composition teaching at Cambridge, with Donald Macleod.

Alexander Goehr discusses his composition teaching at Cambridge University with Donald Macleod

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. in 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

Over the years, Sandy has taught many of this country's leading composers including Thomas Adès, Julian Anderson, Robin Holloway and George Benjamin. And so, in today's programme Donald asks Sandy how composition can be taught. Sandy also discusses some of his dramatic compositions which draw on sources and stories from the past such as Arianna and Moses.

O Teseo, O Teseo mio - from Arianna (1995)
Ruby Philogene (mezzo-soprano), Arianna Ensemble, William Lacey (conductor)

To the man who emanated light, from 'The Death of Moses', Op 58 (1993)
Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus, Instrumental Ensemble, Stephen Cleobury (conductor)

Piano Quintet, Op 69 (2000)
Daniel Becker (piano), Elias Quartet.

05 LASTOn Reflection20170915

Alexander Goehr looks back at a long and influential life in music.

Donald Macleod looks back with Alexander Goehr at a long, varied and influential life in music

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

In this final programme, Donald asks Sandy to reflect on his long life and make some assessments. Does he still care what other people think of his music? What does he think of classical music being written today? What music does he listen to? And is he still driven to compose each day?

Ulysses' Admonition to Achilles (2006)
Song- Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)

Manere, Op 81 (2008)
Richard Horsford (clarinet), Marianne Thorsen (violin)

Since Brass nor Stone, Op 80 (2008)
Colin Currie (percussion), Pavel Haas Quartet

Marching to Carcassonne, Op 74 (2002)
Peter Serkin (piano), London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen (conductor).

Alexander Goehr looks back at a long and influential life in music.

Donald Macleod looks back with Alexander Goehr at a long, varied and influential life in music

All this week, Donald Macleod is in conversation with Alexander Goehr at the composer's cottage in a village outside Cambridge. Sandy (as he's universally known) was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of the conductor Walter Goehr and pianist and photographer Laelia Goehr. The family moved to England in 1933. In his early twenties, Sandy became a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. By the early sixties he was considered a leader of the avant-garde in the UK, but he never committed himself to any movement or school in particular and throughout his life, Sandy has continued to look over his shoulder at the past as much as he has sought new musical horizons of his own. In 1975 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he remains Emeritus Professor.

In this final programme, Donald asks Sandy to reflect on his long life and make some assessments. Does he still care what other people think of his music? What does he think of classical music being written today? What music does he listen to? And is he still driven to compose each day?

Ulysses' Admonition to Achilles (2006)
Song- Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)

Manere, Op 81 (2008)
Richard Horsford (clarinet), Marianne Thorsen (violin)

Since Brass nor Stone, Op 80 (2008)
Colin Currie (percussion), Pavel Haas Quartet

Marching to Carcassonne, Op 74 (2002)
Peter Serkin (piano), London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen (conductor).