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Gordon Jacob writing


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thumbnail of bow 1988 English 'cello bow
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"The [composer] may admire many of his illustrious predecessors and contemporaries and may love their work. But he will not show these feelings by imitating their styles, but by striving to come near to their spirit of adventure and independence of thought in his own work." Gordon Jacob, in The Elements of Orchestration

Comments from Riverdale Ensemble
Gordon Jacob (1895-1984), in common with the generation of British composers that includes Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Howells, Bax and so on, studied with Charles Villiers Stanford; however, any resemblance between his music and that of those composers ends there. Far from the lush, overt Romanticism of his elders, his writing is more simple and sparse, inspired partly by Baroque and Classical models (some of the works under his name are in fact arrangements of Baroque music), sometimes angular and dissonant but never inaccessible. He summed up his ethos of composing in this statement: "I think the question of communication is important, because one never wants to write down to an audience, but at the same time I personally feel repelled by the intellectual snobbery of some progressive artists… the day that melody is discarded altogether, you may as well pack up music…"

Jacob had a special affinity for wind instruments, for which he composed a large body of concerti and chamber music, including the Trio for clarinet, viola and piano, written in 1969. These works demonstrate deep knowledge of instrumental technique, also evident in his authoritative textbooks on composing and orchestral writing.


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On this site

Browse Jacob's works: a list of works (including books). Link from here to more details on each work, and how to obtain it.

Recordings of Jacob's works, including some not so easy to come by.

Gordon Jacob's life: summary of his life history.

Book about Jacob: Gordon Jacob - a Centenary Biography by Eric Wetherell.

Picture gallery: You'll see various reduced-size photos around this website. This page gives access via thumbnails to the photo gallery.

Contact us: Contact details for the webmaster.

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