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3 - Cyril Scott and the BBC

from I - SCOTT IN CONTEXT

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 September 2019

Lewis Foreman
Affiliation:
Kensington Symphony Orchestra
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Summary

FROM the beginning the BBC operated a civil-service-style records and filing system, which particularly in the early decades maintained a rigorous permanent record of activities. Furthermore, decisions and arrangements across the BBC were based on the circulation of paper minutes, which were extensively annotated by participants in any particular project, leaving a vivid paper-trail of how things were done and what those involved really thought. To examine these archives we need to refer to the BBC Written Archives Centre at Caversham, where there are files on Cyril Scott as a composer, and contracts for him as a contributor, both as pianist and (very occasional) speaker.

While Cyril Scott was widely respected in his lifetime, not only as a composer but also as a pianist, that regard was based on an enduring established reputation, particularly for his light music and especially piano pieces, rather than constant performances of his latest and more elaborate compositions. His chamber music and songs tended to be heard more than his more ambitious orchestral works.

Championed by Sir Henry Wood, Scott was heard on various occasions during the first thirty years of the Queen's Hall Promenade Concerts, and he enjoyed a number of performances in the early days after the BBC took over in 1927. The Queen's Hall Promenade Concerts (which moved to the Royal Albert Hall after the Queen's Hall was bombed in 1941) are a good measure of the BBC's interest. Between 1927 and 1954 Scott enjoyed nine orchestral billings (though only eight actually took place, because of a wartime cancellation) and seven solo songs with piano. Scott's last orchestral performance at the Proms was in 1954, since when nothing by him has been heard at these concerts. For the record, this is Scott's representation from 1927:

Orchestral

1931 (15 September): Piano Concerto No. 1

1932 (20 September): Overture Noel

1934 (30 August): Festival Overture

1939 (22 September): Two Passacaglias on Irish Themes [cancelled]

1940 (5 October): Ode to Great Men [not organised by the BBC and cancelled owing to an air raid]

1944 (21 July): Festival Overture

1947 (20 August): Festival Overture

1948 (13 September): Oboe Concerto

1954 (27 July): Two Passacaglias on Irish Themes

Type
Chapter
Information
The Cyril Scott Companion
Unity in Diversity
, pp. 49 - 64
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

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