Alexander S. Beaumont
String Quintet in a minor
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello, Bass Ad libitum
After hearing the attractive and well-written String Quintet in a minor of Alexander Beaumont (1848-1913), one wonders why there is almost no information to be had about him. The explanation may lie in the fact that Beaumont, who was born in the English city of Manchester, did not earn his living as a composer but was a professional soldier of independent means. In the few references one finds, all of which are over 85 years old or more, he is referred to somewhat disparagingly as Captain Alex S. Beaumont, an amateur violinist and composer. Yet, his works are clearly those of a composer who had formal training. One reference states that he may have studied privately with William Sterndale Bennett, a professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Throughout the 19th century and during much of the 20th, there has been a strong prejudice against composers who did not need to earn living by music and this may account for why Beaumont is so little known. The sources refer to him as a patron of the arts and a close friend of the important English composer William Hurlstone whose works he helped to publish.
The String Quintet in a minor was published in 1889 but most likely composed sometime earlier. In four movements, the opening Allegro con spirito is a richly scored, full-blooded affair. A lovely Andante cantabile comes next, the main theme to which is an English folk melody. A fetch second section features a poignant and sad dialog between the cello and first violin. The third movement is a fleet-footed Scherzo, allegro vivace. The finale, an upbeat and rollicking Allegro vivace, concludes the work.
This is a good quintet, full of appealing melodies and excellent part-writing which surely deserves to be rescued from obscurity. Long out of print, we think it will be of interest to amateurs and professionals alike. Though written as a quintet, Beaumont created a substantial bass part which can be added if desired.