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Arnold Bax

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Biography

Bax studied for a short time at the Royal Academy of Music, leaving in 1905 before completing his course of study. After discovering the work of Yeats, Bax became enthralled with the Irish Celtic culture, and it became a major source of inspiration for him. Influenced by Debussy, Strauss and Ravel, Bax's early compositional style included chromatic harmonies and broad melodies as in his tone poems The garden of Fand (1916) and November Woods (1917). His later works became more contrapuntal, and he concentrated his efforts on composing symphonies. Bax received many honors as a composer, including being knighted in 1937 and his appointment as Master of the King's Music in 1942. By that time his energy for composition had nearly run out and he wrote little after that except for two attempts at film music, Malta GC and Oliver Twist, some concertantes and the music for the coronation of 1953. He died that year while on a holiday in Ireland. As a composer, his best asset was his ability to characterize the moods of the human condition through his music. ~ Lynn Vought