Alan Rawsthorne

Alan Rawsthorne was born on 2 May 1905 at Haslingden, Lancashire. He spent a period of training as a dentist, and not until his early twenties did he take up music seriously. He then entered the Royal Manchester College of Music, studying piano, composition, and cello. In 1930 he went abroad and continued his studies, including piano under Egon Petri. On his return to England he taught from 1932 to 1934 at Dartington Hall, there writing music for the School of Dance-Mime. He settled in London in 1935 and three years later gained international recognition through a performance of his 'Theme and Variations' for two violins at the London Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music. The same Society, just at the outbreak of war, produced his 'Symphonic Studies' at the Warsaw Festival, a work which subsequently won a firm place in the orchestral repertoire. After the war - during which Rawsthorne served in the Army - he devoted the bulk of his time to composition, and although he was not a prolific composer, his output was substantial. Notable among his post-war compositions are the two violin concertos; the 'Cello Concerto,' commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society; the 'Second Piano Concerto' - probably the most popular of his major works - three symphonies; the second and third string quartets; the sonatas for violin & piano, and cello & piano; the 'Quintet for Piano and Wind;' the 'Quintet for Piano and Strings;' and the 'Ballade' for piano written for John Ogden. He also composed a good deal of incidental music for stage and film as well as a ballet for Covent Garden, 'Madame Chrysanthème.'

Rawsthorne was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1961, and was made an Honorary Doctor of Music by Liverpool, Essex, and Belfast Universities. He died in Cambridge on 24 July 1971, but his elegant and beautifully crafted music continues to be enjoyed by both performers and listeners. There is an active Rawsthorne Society (located at 69 Gerard Road, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 2PP, United Kingdom; tel 01709 738716), which disseminates information about the composer, and encourages recordings.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1938 Symphonic Studies 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
ca. 1938 Light Music for Strings 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Northern Chamber Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
pre 1940 Suite for Recorder and String Orchestra 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Orchestration by John McCabe (1993)

Northern Chamber Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones

The history of this composition:

1941 The Creel 4.0 stars CD
 Hawrhorne Comments:
Suite for Piano Duet after William Walton

The mighthy Pike is the Tyrant of the Fresh Water
The Sprat, a Fish that is ever in Motion
The Carp is the Queen of the Rivers, a Stately, a Good. and a very subtil Fish
The Leap or Summersault of the Salmon

Peter Lawson and Alan MacLean - Piano

1944 Streetcorner Overture 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1947 Concerto for Oboe and Strings 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1949 Concerto for Strings 4.0 stars
Hawrhorne Comments:
Northern Chamber Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1950 Symphony No 1 4.0 stars CD
Rawshorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1951 Concertante Pastorale for Flute, Horn and Strings 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Conrad Marshall - Flute
Rebecca Goldberg - Horn
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1953 Coronation Overture 4.0 stars CD
rawsthorne Comments:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1954 Practical Cats 4.50 stars CD
rawsthorne Comments:
An entertainment for speaker and orchestra

Simon Callow - Narrator
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones

1957 Madame Chrysanthème - ballet suite 4.0 stars CD
rawsthorne Comments:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1959 Symphony No 2 4.0 stars CD
Rawshorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1961-1962 Divertimento for Chamber Orchestra 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Northern Chamber Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1962 Medieval Diptych for baritone and orchestra 4.0 stars CD
rawsthorne Comments:
Jeremy Huw Williams - baritone

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones

1964 Symphony No 3 4.0 stars CD
Rawshorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1964 Elegiac Rhapsody for Strings 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Northern Chamber Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1965 Cello Concerto 4.0 stars CD
Hawrhorne Comments:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones
1967 Theme, Variations and Finale 4.0 stars CD
rawsthorne Comments:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra cond. David Lloyd-Jones