Music of Sir Hamilton Harty for this St. Patrick’s Day. The multi-talented Irish Composer/Conductor/Accompanist is probably better known for his milestone 1930s recordings of works by Berlioz as well as his contemporaries than by his works as a composer himself. Certainly, his prodigious output is seldom, if ever performed today. Although, in all fairness, the recording studio has been the place for exposing his works, rather than the concert hall.
This recording, part of a 1948 broadcast concert given by the Radio Eireann Symphony, led by Jean Martinon features his With The Wild Geese, a 1910 composition which has been recorded in recent years for Naxos by The Irish National Symphony led by Proinssias O’ Duinn.
In his career as a conductor, which began in 1904, Harty was particularly noted as an interpreter of the music of Berlioz. From 1920 to 1933 he was the chief conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, which he returned to the high standards and critical acclaim that it had enjoyed under its founder, Charles Hallé. His last permanent post was with the London Symphony Orchestra, but it lasted only two years, from 1932 to 1934. During his conducting career, Harty made some recordings with his orchestras. Shortly after his dismissal by the LSO, Harty began to suffer the symptoms of a brain tumor. After surgery, he resumed his career until 1940, but the tumor returned to cause his death at the age of 61.
In 1900 or 1901, Harty moved to London to further his career. The biographer Michael Kennedy writes that Harty quickly became known both as “a promising composer and as an outstanding accompanist.” The Musical Times later called him “the prince of accompanists”. Of Harty’s early compositions, Kennedy singles out the Trio (1901) and Piano Quartet (1904) and the Comedy Overture, premiered at the Proms in 1907. The Times said of this piece:
It proved to be one of the most successful works the season has brought forth. The frank jollity of its themes and the clearness of their expression, both as regards orchestration and formal structure, make it a delightful “Promenade” piece – that is to say, one which tired people can enjoy at a first hearing and find refreshment in listening to. … The overture was played with evident enjoyment and great spirit by the orchestra under Mr. Wood.
Enjoy the broadcast.