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Arthur Somervell

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Arthur Somervell
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Sir Arthur Somervell (5 June 1863 – 2 May 1937) was an English composer, and after Hubert Parry one of the most successful and influential writers of art song in the English music renaissance of the 1890s-1900s.

He was born in Windermere, Westmorland, the son of the founder of K Shoes, and was initially educated at Uppingham School and King’s College, Cambridge,[1] where he studied composition under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. From 1883 to 1885 he studied at the High School for Music, Berlin, and from 1885 to 1887 at the Royal College of Music in London, under Parry. He studied composition with Friedrich Kiel. He became a professor at the Royal College of Music in 1894, and conducted his own works at the Leeds and Birmingham Festivals, 1895-97. He was appointed Inspector of Music at the Board of Education and Scottish Education Department in 1901.

He achieved success in his own day as a composer of choral works such as The Forsaken Merman (1895), Intimations of Immortality (which he conducted at Leeds Festival in 1907), and The Passion of Christ (1914) but is now chiefly remembered for his song cycles such as Maud (after Tennyson, 1898) and A Shropshire Lad (the first known setting of A. E. Housman, 1904). His popular Handel adaptation “Silent Worship” was featured in the 1996 film Emma.

His style was conservative, and shows the influence of Mendelssohn and Brahms. He was also active in music education, and became Principal Inspector of Music for the Board of Education in 1920. He was knighted in 1929.

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