Gerald Finzi

(1901—1956) composer

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(b London, 1901; d Oxford, 1956).

Eng. composer. Taught comp. at RAM 1930–3. After marriage in 1933, he retired to isolated life in countryside, building his own house at Ashmansworth, nr. Newbury. Formed Newbury String Players, 1939. Worked in Ministry of War Transport, 1941–5. For the Newbury players he revived and ed. many 18th‐cent. works by Eng. composers such as Boyce, Stanley, and Mudge. Also worked to obtain publication of mus. By Ivor Gurney, whom he never met. Was collector of rare books and grower of rare apples.

His works, some of them spread over many years and constantly revised, can be broadly linked to the Eng. tradition of Elgar and Vaughan Williams, but the influence on him of these composers can be overstressed. His settings of Eng. poetry, particularly of Thomas Hardy, have a distinctive individuality, with musical imagery to match the verbal. Nor would it be just to describe him as a miniaturist, for such works as For St Cecilia, the Intimations of Immortality, and the vc. conc. show an ability to handle larger forms. Through Parry, he reached back to J. S. Bach in the vocal style of his masterpiece, the cantata Dies Natalis; and the same fluent imaginative vision gives an unfading emotional power to his Shakespeare song‐cycle Let us Garlands Bring and to his touching Christmas work In terra pax. Prin. works:


A Severn Rhapsody



, vn., orch. (1925, rev. 1935, 1942);

New Year Music

(1926, rev. c.1946);


, pf., str. (1920s, rev. 1940s);


, str. (1928);

The Fall of the Leaf

(1929, rev. 1939–41, orch. completed by H. Ferguson); cl. conc., str. (1948–9);

Grand Fantasia and Toccata

, pf. orch. (Fantasia 1928, rev. 1953, Toccata 1953); vc. conc. (1951–5).


Lo, the full final sacrifice

, with org. (1946, orch. 1947);

Intimations of Immortality

, ten., ch., orch. (1936–8, 1949–50);

For St Cecilia

, ten., ch., orch. (1947);


, with org. (1952, orch. 1956);

In terra pax

, sop., bar., ch., str., hp., cymbals (1954, full orch. 1956).

solo voice & orch.

or ens.: By Footpath and Stile, bar., str. qt. (1921–2);

Dies Natalis

, sop. (or ten.), str. (1926, 1938–9);

Farewell to Arms

, ten., str. or small orch. (1925–44); 2 Milton Sonnets, ten. (or sop.), small orch. (c.1928).

unacc. voices:

3 Short Elegies

, SATB (1926); 7 Part‐songs, SATB (1934–7);

White‐flowering days

(in A Garland for the Queen), SATB (1953).

voice(s) & piano:

A Young Man's Exhortation

, 10 songs (Hardy), ten., pf. (1926–33);

Earth and Air and Rain

, 10 songs (Hardy), bar., pf. (1928–36);

Before and After Summer

, 10 songs (Hardy), bar., pf. (1938–49);

Let Us Garlands Bring

, 5 songs (Shakespeare), bar., pf. (also with orch.) (1929–42);

Let us now praise famous men

, male vv., pf. (1952);

Till Earth Outwears

, 7 songs (Hardy), sop. or ten., pf. (1927–55);

I said to Love

, 6 songs (Hardy), bar., pf. (1928–56).

Subjects: Music.

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