Over time, Simpson moved away from the pitting of one key against another; instead, he began to examine the generative power of an interval or series of intervals - though the controlling grip of key still gave his music a sense of purposiveness and direction that very few of his contemporaries ever achieved. The 50-minute Ninth Symphony (1986-87), the work Simpson himself regarded as his greatest, is built in a single tempo, over a single basic pulse; what the listener perceives, of course, is not some stale compositional technique but an enormous organic construction of terrifying power.
Simpson was a broadcaster, and one of the finest writers on music that the English language has yet produced, with books on Beethoven, Bruckner, Nielsen and Sibelius. He was also a powerful force in promoting fellow composers in whose music he believed.
The emergence of Simpson’s music into the limelight began in earnest only in the 1980s, with the formation of a Robert Simpson Society (its archive is held at Royal Holloway College in Egham) and the initiation of the near-complete survey of his music on the Hyperion label.
Edited by rm508 on 22 Sep 2009, 12:02
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