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Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
(9 December 1892 – 10 March 1965)[1] was a British cellist active in the first half of the 20th century. She gave first performances of several important English works, especially those of Frederick Delius, and made the first or standard recordings of others.

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Early training 1.2 A musical family 1.3 First performances of the Delius repertoire 1.4 The Elgar concerto 1.5 '... a nightingale singing along with her' 1.6 Wartime again

2 Centenary Concert 3 Recordings 4 Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
in Literature 5 Sources 6 References 7 External links

Biography[edit] Early training[edit] Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
was born in Roorkee, North-West India. The Harrison family moved back to England during her childhood and she studied at the Royal College of Music, London, and afterwards under Hugo Becker, and at the High School of Music in Berlin. In 1910 she won the Mendelssohn Prize, and made her debut in the Bechstein Hall, Berlin. A musical family[edit] Beatrice was the sister of May Harrison, violinist, a student of Leopold Auer; Margaret Harrison, a pianist, but perhaps better known as a breeder of Irish Wolfhounds and a dog show judge;[2] and Monica. Like the family of Mark Hambourg, this was one in which the children were taught separate instruments so that they could play in ensemble. May had once stood in for Fritz Kreisler
Fritz Kreisler
in a Mendelssohn concert at Helsingfors. Both May and Beatrice won the Gold Medal of the Associated Board for violin and cello respectively. The Harrison family became friends with Roger Quilter
Roger Quilter
and his circle through the Soldiers' concerts in 1916. On 11 March 1918 Beatrice performed Dvořák's Cello
Cello
Concerto in B minor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Thomas Beecham. Hugo Becker
Hugo Becker
had spoken to Sir Henry Wood
Henry Wood
of his admiration for Beatrice Harrison's playing even before her debut. Both Edward Elgar and Wood were great admirers. May and Beatrice performed together under Wood's baton in Brahms' Double Concerto. First performances of the Delius repertoire[edit] Beatrice was the first performer of Delius's Cello
Cello
Sonata (Wigmore Hall, 31 Oct 1918): on 11 November, May gave the first performance of the Delius Violin Sonata No. 1, which she later recorded with Arnold Bax at the piano. Roger Quilter
Roger Quilter
attended both performances, for they were also playing his music in concerts at that time. The Violin Concerto, written at Grez-sur-Loing
Grez-sur-Loing
in 1919, had its first performance at Queen's Hall
Queen's Hall
with Albert Sammons
Albert Sammons
(the dedicatee) under Adrian Boult in the same year. Beatrice and her sister gave the first performance of Delius's Double Concerto (which he had completed in 1915 and dedicated to them[3]) in his presence at a Queen's Hall
Queen's Hall
Symphony Concert in January 1920.[4] After this Delius returned to Grez and, at Beatrice Harrison's request, began work on his Cello
Cello
Concerto. She performed the Cello
Cello
Sonata at a concert in Paris
Paris
on 8 June. After two months' uninterrupted work in his Hampstead
Hampstead
flat, Delius finished the concerto in the spring of 1921, and it was performed by the cellist whom Sir Thomas Beecham
Thomas Beecham
called 'this talented lady.' When Delius's remains were re-buried according to his wishes in a southern English country churchyard, on 24 May 1935, the village chosen was Limpsfield near the Harrison home at Oxted
Oxted
in Surrey: Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
played after the service, at which Thomas Beecham
Thomas Beecham
gave the oration. The Elgar concerto[edit]

Harrison and Elgar on the recording session of Elgar's Cello
Cello
Concerto, at HMV studio, November 1920.

Harrison gave the first festival performance of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto outside London, at the Three Choirs Festival
Three Choirs Festival
in Hereford
Hereford
in 1921. By 1924 she had toured in Europe and America, and in November 1925 she reappeared at the Royal Philharmonic in the all-Elgar concert, performing the Cello
Cello
Concerto under Elgar's baton (he had insisted that she be the soloist whenever he conducted the work, after she studied the work with him prior to making an abridged, pre-electric recording). This was the occasion upon which the Gold Medal was awarded to Sir Edward by Henry Wood
Henry Wood
on behalf of the Society. A year or two later, when the advent of electrical recording had improved the technical potential of the gramophone, Beatrice Harrison was the soloist chosen to make the 'official' HMV recording of the concerto with Elgar conducting. In 1929 at the Harrogate festival she was a contributor at a festival concert of works associated with the Frankfurt Group (Quilter and colleagues), and in 1933 Quilter re-arranged his 'L'Amour de moy' for her for a broadcast. '... a nightingale singing along with her'[edit] Beatrice Harrison's performances became well known through broadcast in the early days of BBC sound radio. She made some 'live' recordings in which she sat and played her cello in the garden of her house at Oxted, and the nightingales which frequented the place sang as she was playing. The tunes thus recorded included Songs my mother taught me (Dvořák), Chant Hindu (Rimsky-Korsakov) and the Londonderry Air (the tune of Danny Boy). Records were also issued of the nightingales singing alone and of the dawn chorus in the same garden. These recordings were extremely popular. One person has suggested that the bird sounds heard on the BBC recordings were not those of a real nightingale, but of a talented whistler, Maude Gould.[5] However, listening to the track the sound is clearly that of a nightingale, and the sounds heard are not human-made. Harrison appeared as herself in The Demi-Paradise, as a cellist playing accompaniment to the singing of nightingales for a BBC broadcast. Wartime again[edit]

Beatrice Harrison's grave at St Peter's Church in Limpsfield, Surrey, photographed in 2013

Perhaps inevitably the Elgar Concerto was the work with which she was most closely identified, not least in her performances for Henry Wood. There was a very successful performance in August 1937, and another at the Elgar Concert of 27 August 1940, with the London
London
Symphony Orchestra, in the old Queen's Hall, less than a year before it was destroyed by German bombing. On this occasion the soloist's style was particularly animated, causing her ringlets to 'dance' in such a way that the orchestral players were distracted. During the concert, there was a rattle of gunfire outside and plaster fell inside the hall. Sir Henry considered her performance the finest he had ever directed. She was one of the English soloists who took part in Wood's very final season in July 1944, a month before his death. Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
owned and played a cello made by Pietro Guarneri (Pietro da Venezia) (1695–1762). She died in Surrey
Surrey
in 1965. Centenary Concert[edit] On 9 December 1992 at Wigmore Hall
Wigmore Hall
the Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
Centenary Concert was given by cellist Julian Lloyd Webber
Julian Lloyd Webber
and pianist John Lenehan. The programme consisted of works especially associated with the cellist including the Cello
Cello
Sonatas by John Ireland and Delius as well as the Pastoral and Reel by Cyril Scott which Lloyd Webber played with Harrison's sister, Margaret, on the piano. Recordings[edit] (Not a complete list)

Elgar: Cello
Cello
concerto (New Symphony Orchestra cond. by Edward Elgar) HMV D1507-9 (3 records). Delius: Cello
Cello
Sonata (w. Harold Craxton, pno) HMV D1103-4 (2 records). Delius: Elegie, and Caprice (Orchestra cond. by Eric Fenby) HMV B3721 (1 record). Delius: Entr'acte and Serenade from Hassan Incidental Music (w. Margaret Harrison, pno). HMV B3274 (1 record). Nightingales/Londonderry Air/Chant Hindu HMV B2470 10" Dawn in an old world garden/Nightingales HMV B2469 10" Nightingales/Songs my mother taught me etc. HMV B2853 102

Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
in Literature[edit]

Beatrice Harrison's performances with nightingales formed the subject of a poem 'The Nightingale Broadcasts' by Robert Saxton which won the 2001 Prize of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association. Her nightingale recordings were the inspiration for a 2004 play by Patricia Cleveland Peck, The Cello
Cello
and the Nightingale [1], [2] Beatrice Harrison's performances with nightingales are referred to as a dramatic device in order to introduce an episode with nightingales in John Preston's 2007 novel The Dig.

Sources[edit]

T. Beecham, Frederick Delius
Frederick Delius
(Hutchinson & Co, London
London
1959). R.T. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936). Arthur Eaglefield Hull (Ed.), A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians (Dent, London
London
1924). R. Elkin, Royal Philharmonic, The Annals of the Royal Philharmonic Society (Rider & Co, London
London
1946). V. Langfield, Roger Quilter, His Life and Music (Woodbridge, Boydell 2002). R. Pound, Sir Henry Wood
Henry Wood
(Cassell, London
London
1969). H. Wood, My Life of Music (Gollancz, London
London
1938). Beatrice Harrison, The Cello
Cello
and the Nightingales. The Autobiography of Beatrice Harrison, Edited by Patricia Cleveland-Peck. Foreword by Julian Lloyd Webber. (John Murray, London
London
1985). The Harrison Sisters Issue, The Delius Society Journal, Autumn 1985, Number 87.

References[edit]

^ "Cello.org Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
Page". Retrieved 17 July 2008.  ^ http://www.irishwolfhounds.org/sanctuary.htm) ^ Arthur Hutchings in "The Concerto" (Penguin Books, 1952), article on Delius's concertos, page 267. ^ Lee-Browne, Martin; Guinery, Paul (October 1, 2014). Delius and His Music. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 352–260. ISBN 1843839598.  ^ http://www.colander.org/gallimaufry/Birdsong.html Birdsong and Music

External links[edit]

BBC recordings of Beatrice Harrison
Beatrice Harrison
and birds Review of Beatrice Harrison's Centenary Concert A 2015 article by Iain Logie Baird introducing much new research about the nightingale broadcasts and the microphone used.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 2658868 LCCN: n85319097 ISNI: 0000 0000 8082 4296 GND: 134924592 BNF: cb13925583n (data) MusicBrainz: ba8d0d8b-abfc-45c5-8d50-8cb8be024

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