Arnold Bax

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Piano Quintet No.1 in g minor

Arnold Bax's massive Piano Quintet No.1 in g minor was completed in 1915 and is in three movements. At the time of its premiere, it was attacked because of its length, however, but its dimensions are in no sense due to diffuseness or to redundant development, but to the uncommon richness and breadth of the thematic material. Its nature is essentially dramatic and its spiritual nature generates a profusion of extraordinary impulses. It is cyclic to the extent that the material of the third movement is derived from that of the first movement. The song-like middle movement stands out for its Celtic-Irish folk melody.


Arnold Bax (1883-1953) was born in London. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Of independent means, he never needed to teach or conduct. He was a fine pianist but his main interests were composing music and poetry. His strong affinity for Ireland led him to spend considerable time in that country which influenced his outlook and music. The 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland and its brutal suppression, which included the execution of several of his friends, was to have a profound influence upon him. He is remembered mostly for his orchestral compositions but he wrote a great deal of chamber music. His  music show many influences, perhaps the strongest of which is impressionism.


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