Phantasie for String Quartet
The Phantasie for String Quartet by William
Hurlstone won first prize in the prestigious Cobbett Competition of 1905. The
Cobbett Competitions where designed to encourage the younger generation of
British composers to write chamber music. Its founder and benefactor was the
chamber music aficionado William Wilson Cobbett. The rules of the competition
provided an alternate format, the old English Fancy for Fantasia from the time
of Purcell, to the traditional four movement work which had developed from Haydn
onwards. There was to be only a single movement of around 15 minutes duration
embracing a variety of moods, tone colors and tempi while at the same time
retaining an inner unity.
The respected chamber music scholar and critic R.W. Walthew described the Phantasie as follows:
"The Phantasie for String Quartet won the first prize in the first of W.W. Cobbett’s now famous competitions and it may be considered a lucky happening that the series should be inaugurated with a work so truly representative of genuine chamber music. This Phantasie is really in four short movements but the whole work is built up on a few themes which appear in different forms throughout. This is a masterly and powerful piece of writing and is perfect from start to finish."
William Yeates Hurlstone (1876-1906) was born in London and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he studied piano and composition, the latter with Sir Charles Stanford, who among his many brilliant students considered Hurlstone his most talented. Virtually all of his contemporaries recognized his tremendous ability and the excellence of his compositions. In 1905 at the age of 28, he was appointed Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint at the Royal College but unfortunately, less than a year later, he died.
This fine work should interest both amateurs and professionals. It has been out of print for the better part of a century. It is our pleasure to make it available again.