The music world loves mysteries. This week it is why did John Foulds' World Requiem disappear from the repertoire four years after its first performance in 1923? The Independent proclaims proclaims Foulds (left) a 'genius', and suggests suitably exotic reasons for its disappearance. These range from resistance to the composers' socialist views to an establishment cabal that banned his music because of its mystical powers. Meanwhile Leon Botstein has been on Radio 3 ranking Foulds alongside Elgar, Vaughan Williams and somewhat puzzlingly Philip Glass.
So why did Fould's World Requiem drop out of the repertoire? Here is a reason that none of the experts seem to have thought of. It is an unremarkable and commonplace work.
That judgement comes from Peter J. Pirie writing in his 1979 book The English Musical Renaissance which I recommended last week. He says - 'A similar figure was John Foulds (1880-1939), whose World Requiem used to be performed at Armistice Day celebrations for a few years after the First World War. This is a curious genre, compound of the over-sweet taste of England in the 1920s, a megalomania that expressed itself in common chords and commonplaces, and a preoccupation with Wardour-Street Orientalism or vaguely Celtic mysticism'.
But don't take Peter Pirie's word, listen to the World Requiem on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday. Or buy the Chandos recording of the performance when it is released next year.
Just another case of the excruciating boredom of pure fact?
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