Peter Parkes' comments, The Brass Herald

ScrapingtheBottom

Active Member
Paul McLaughlin said:
Is it perhaps that "liberal" suggestions such as freedom of speech don't sit comfortably with you which makes you use the word in a pejorative fashion?

Nice work. :D

Jambo if you really don't like liberals then maybe you should go live in Myanmar. Liberal doctrines are the foundation of our modern democracy (yes it is liberalism that allows you to chose what you do, e.g. what car you drive, etc.). Methinks you confuse liberalism with some socialist ideaology, mixed with a bit of anti-authoritarism/anarchism and a good dollop of eco-political ideaology.
 

Dave Euph

Member
James Yelland said:
Where is the catalogue of great works for their medium? It hardly exists....(except for Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy).

Sorry, I know it's off-topic, but I have to emphasise what a great suite of music that is! I played it last year with the Uni Wind Orchestra and it was a truly brilliant experience! The pieces are just in a class of their own.
 
The trouble with this 'debate', is that we all have different opinions of what a 'great' composer. And, in all honesty, it's good that we do, otherwise life would become very boring!

For me, although I can see their importance on (mainly English) musical history, Holst, Elgar and RVW aern't my cup of tea. However, I don't expect to be ridiculed for having that opinion - and neither should anybody else expect to be.

Quite clearly Major Parkes has been invited to write an article (which I haven't read yet) because, over time, he has proved that he has someting valuable to say and communicate (through spoken and written word, as well as through interpretation of music). Just because you don't agree with his opinion, there is no need to throw comments around referring to his age, etc. I think this is showing a cmplete lack of respect.

However, the other issue that has come up here (other than who are 'great' composers, which for me is like beauty - in the eye of the beholder. e.g. mentioning Tchaikowsky and Stravinsky in the same sentence sends shivers down my spine - one is a Russian musical genius, and one writes overly slushy/romantic naff piano concertos!!!), is the subject of composers who write for band....

I don't believe that established 'orchestral' (not the way id describe Birtwistle - check how many pices he's written for orchestra over the years....) composers would be put off writting a piece for band because of it's so called 'restrictions'. In my experience, composers often relish the challenge of a restriction, becuse it often allows them to 'free up' other aspects of their music.

The reason that more non 'in-house' composers don't write for band is that they are hardly ever asked!!! Who was the last person to find out if Jimmy MacMillan would scribble a piece for a contest or a concert? And even if someone had, I would suspect that composers would be put off by the sort of negative, and often un-educated comments that bandsman (obviously not all!) can make. Who out there has really listened to Grimethorpe Aria? Although not a taditional band piece, it certainly has some great qualities, and is a very beautiful piece.

Pete
 

drummerboy

Member
Dave Euph said:
James Yelland said:
Where is the catalogue of great works for their medium? It hardly exists....(except for Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy).

Sorry, I know it's off-topic, but I have to emphasise what a great suite of music that is! I played it last year with the Uni Wind Orchestra and it was a truly brilliant experience! The pieces are just in a class of their own.

True, but there are many, many more pieces for wind band, and many of them written recently (Philip Sparke's Dance Movements and Paris Sketches by Martin Ellerby are prime examples).
 

andywooler

Supporting Member
James Yelland said:
... make me wonder if the strains of age are catching up on him.

I had the pleasure of speaking with him last Tuesday - he was sat behind me at the Glyndebourne production of Janacek's Jenufa. Certainly seemed fully compus mentis to me!

This debate brings a few questions to my mind - maybe Phil Sparke, as the leading contest work composer on tMP, could add some insights here:

Is composing under the constraints of contest requirements (duration, the need to test the players) too artistically restrictive?
How much does the lack of financial incentive restrict writing outside of the contest arena compared to writing for wind band, which has a much larger and global market?
How often do serious works for brass band get programmed outside of the contest hall?
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Without wanting to stir up any more controversy between wind orchestra/ensemble and brass bands, it may be worth making the point that many of the best works for wind orchestra have been written recently, certainly since the days when the Major was involved with recordings for "Bandstand". As for outstanding compositions for wind by established composers, I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Holst's "Hammersmith", to my mind one of his best compositions for any medium.

It is also true to say that very many of the best brass band works have come about as commissions written for use in contests, and there are real questions to be addressed if new works are to be encouraged in general. I think there are some very encouraging signs at the moment, paticularly where bands have appointed "composers in residence", and have encouraged the promotion and performance of works by composers new to the brass band. What we need are more enlightened projects to keep the flow going, and hopefully to guarantee a number of performances to give new music a chance to become accepted - a one-off reading at a concert or music festival is all very well, but will of necessity only have a very limited audience, unless it happens to be recorded and released for everyone to hear.
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
Well said Mr Bale, Sir! :)

It would be very nice too, if bands who have resident composers (as opposed to composers in residence) could make more of an effort to play their in-house music in concerts.

Old Hall do very well, but even with two of us active, few of our pieces actually get played in public. And before anyone says it, it's not because we write rubbish! :p (Well, not always :oops: )
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
PeterBale said:
As for outstanding compositions for wind by established composers, I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Holst's "Hammersmith", to my mind one of his best compositions for any medium.

I did, but on another thread.... ;-)) (but I can't remember which one..... :shock: :lol: )
 

Gaz Beck

New Member
I agree with you mr meechan - it is a total lack of respect towards the major. I don't think anyone on this forum has the anywhere near the same sort of results as major parkes has had. The man has been one of the finest conductors of the brass band movement and I feel that any derogatory comments should be kept away from forums etc.

show a little respect.

GB
 

ScrapingtheBottom

Active Member
Gaz Beck said:
I agree with you mr meechan - it is a total lack of respect towards the major. I don't think anyone on this forum has the anywhere near the same sort of results as major parkes has had. The man has been one of the finest conductors of the brass band movement and I feel that any derogatory comments should be kept away from forums etc.

show a little respect.

GB

Oh please! If you disagree with what has been said then go ahead and say so. Don't hide behind some false defence of a man who is obviously capable of fighting his own battles. I see nothing wrong with James' light-hearted supposition on the state of mind that the Major must have been in when he wrote comments that are controversial to say the least and don't seem to be supported by the facts at hand.

We should be free to legitimately criticise who we wish on this forum regardless of status and reputation. If the Major wishes not to draw criticism then he should not write such controversial statements.
 

lynchie

Active Member
I don't think anyones opinion should be taken as gospel, no matter how much they may have achieved. To be honest, I don't think the post was particularly derogatory, but in the main a decent counter-argument to what Major Parkes had said. To be honest I don't agree with the article, but then, I tend to disagree with lots of things...
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
Gosh, my original post seems to have generated some heat, if not much light, doesn't it?

But nobody so far has attempted to answer the main question. Why did Major Parkes say what he did, that "without contesting there would be little or no new music..." - leaving aside the issue of whether it is by 'first-rate' composers or not - when there exists abundant evidence easily to prove him wrong?

Answers on a postcard - sorry, a post - please.
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
James Yelland said:
Gosh, my original post seems to have generated some heat, if not much light, doesn't it?

But nobody so far has attempted to answer the main question. Why did Major Parkes say what he did, that "without contesting there would be little or no new music..." - leaving aside the issue of whether it is by 'first-rate' composers or not - when there exists abundant evidence easily to prove him wrong?

Answers on a postcard - sorry, a post - please.

Swings and roundabouts, perhaps. A lot of new brass band works are either written for contests or usually soon end up as a regular contest piece whether that was the intention or not (and usually end up being associated as such), and I dare say the composers concerned are aware of this. Perhaps a stipulation 'not to be used in contests' should any composer wish it might solve the problem? Imagine the furore that would create! It probably wouldn't get played ;-) (probably a similar scenario to Vaughan Williams' Henry V Overture which lay unperformed for some 47 years. The composer's wishes that trumpets should be used and that 'the vulgar sentimental vibrato that disfigures most brass band performances should be strictly avoided' maybe had something to do with it!)
 

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