The Keyboard in London

My photo
We (Mike Lurie, Greg Dunbar, Lauren Buono, Shawn Riley & Bryn Coveney) are a group of students studying abroad in London for the semester from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. This blog is to document our class experiences in "The Keyboard and it's Role in London Society" course, which is being taught by Diane Birr at the Ithaca College London Center, in South Kensington. Our studies focus on keyboard instruments (the Virginal, Harpsichord, Pianoforte, Piano, Organ, Electronic keyboard) and explore how these instruments are historically interwoven with the personal and social fabric of London society.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Sterndale Bennett Day at RCM

Royal College of Music
Prince Consort Road

The Royal College of Music presented a day of tribute to English musician William Sterndale Bennett, contemporary and friend of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Bennett (1816-1875) was a continuation of the line of the great pianist/composers associated with the London Pianoforte School and is considered to be one of the most important English composers of the 19th-century Romantic style.

"Were there many artists like Sterndale Bennett,
all fears for the future progress of our art would be silenced."
Robert Schumann in Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik

The class attended two of the day's events:

First, a lecture by pianist David Owen Norris entitled "Sterndale Bennett and the Piano."  The lecture explored Bennett's 'piano music in relation to the pursuit of a Classical aesthetic in a Romantic age, ...temperament, the divided sustaining pedal, and harmonic progression'.

In the evening the class attended a concert featuring some of Sterndale Bennett's works including Three Romances for piano, op. 14 (performed by David Owens Norris); Sonata-Duo in A major, op. 32, for cello and piano; Sextet in F-sharp minor, op. 8 and a set of songs.

"It was extremely interesting to listen to Norris's interpretation of Bennett's music. The most interesting concept he explained was of 4/4 time signature. He compared it to walking and how with our natural momentum we need 2 steps to start moving and 2 to slow down and stop. He also remarked about Bennett's interesting use of harmonies and chords...with his enthusiasm and examples he played on the piano it was very interesting..."

"The presentation lasted just over a half an hour, and I got the impression that Mr. Norris could carry on for three hours with still more to talk about. It's obvious how much passion that man has for hearing a harmonious tune on the keyboard. His hurried speech, his impeccable playing and crafty jokes showed that if you are really involved and 
in love with your work, 
you can go on forever dealing with it."

"This concert was great because we get to see Bennett's music in many different forms...The piano piece was more interesting having listened to the lecture earlier, I was listening for the examples we heard earlier...My favorite piece was the sextet at the end. The addition of the piano and Bass to the standard quartet made for a wonderful chamber sound. Some of the groups harmonies and solos were wonderfully done..."

Sterndale Bennett sites:

For additional information on the London Pianoforte School:

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