English composer and conductor Arthur Bliss was born in Barnes, West London, on 2 August 1891. He studied classics at Cambridge, but also had music lessons from Charles Wood, and then at the Royal College of Music for a year, before this was interupted by World War I.
He served in the army, was twice wounded and once gassed, and was mentioned in dispatches. His brother was killed during the war, and this affected Bliss strongly. He became a Roman Catholic in 1918.
His career as a composer began after the war, with music that was seen as modernist and unconventional. Ten years later, his music had become more romantic and traditional-sounding, and later, his output began to seem old-fashioned alongside works by Britten and Walton.
During World War II he worked for the BBC and became its director of music. After the war, he continued to compose and was appointed Master of the Queen's Music.
Arthur Bliss died at home in London on 27 March 1975, aged eighty-three.
CD Spotlight. Benjamin Britten and James Joyce - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to two sets of English folk and other songs. '... very good listening ...'
Ensemble. Something Really Special - Bliss, Elgar and Vaughan Williams from Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Elizabeth Watts, Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Quite Stunning - The 2015 Three Choirs Festival, enjoyed by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Highly Successful - Roderic Dunnett looks back to Worcester's 2014 Three Choirs Festival, and forward to Hereford's Festival in July 2015
Ensemble. Exuberance in Reserve - A wide-ranging programme from Christopher Stripp and Lucy Colquhoun, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. A Generous Weekend - The third William Alwyn Festival, attended by Patric Standford
Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett
Ensemble. Sensitivity and Incisiveness - Enikö Magyar and Timothy End launch Derby Chamber Music's new season, and impress Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. An Ideal Exponent - Eniko Magyar plays English viola music, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... beautifully executed and superbly recorded ...'
Bizarre Perception - Alistair Hinton discusses a recent article on English music by David Hamilton
Ensemble. Powerfully Sonorous - Fauré, Bliss, Brahms and Weber played by the Frith Piano Quartet, and reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Their Majesties' Music - Pippa Hare listens to the Choir of the 21st Century