Obscure Music Monday: Bantock's Hamabdil

Sir Granville Ransome Bantock (Aug. 7, 1868 - Oct. 16, 1946) was a British composer and conductor, born in London. His parents hoped he would enter the Indian Civil Service, but poor health would prevent him from that. He turned to chemical engineering, but around 20 years old, he started looking at musical manuscripts. His first teacher was at Trinity College of Music, and in 1888 he entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Frederick Corder.

Bantock's conducting took him around the world, and he was known at times for devoting an entire concert to one composer. He was professor at the University of Birmingham (succeeding Sir Edward Elgar) from 1908 - 1934, and elected Chairman of the Corporation of Trinity College of Music in London. He was knighted in 1930.

As a composer, Bantock's output was significant. He wrote for nearly every genre, including many chambers works, such as HamabdilWritten for cello and harp (or piano), Bantock originally wrote this as an entr'acte to the play Judith by Arnold Bennett, based on a story from the Old Testament.  This piece is based on a Hebrew melody that is usually sung at the end of a Sabbath service. The melody is evocative,and longing, and the harp (or piano) accompaniment is sensitively written, never outshining or in competition against the cello. This moving piece doesn't involve technical wizardry, but instead will allow the performer to hone in on their artistic and musical abilities.

Here is a recording of this lovely work for you to enjoy!

Andrew Fuller



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