Q1: You always describe Sir Arthur Bliss as 'Master of the Queen's Music' - shouldn't it be 'Musick', which he used?  A: In the editorial to the Newsletter of Spring 2005 (vol 3 no 1) the Editor writes: "When receiving articles that mention Bliss's role as Master of the Queen's Music, I find opinions divided as to whether it should be 'Music' or 'Musick'. The truth is that the k was included in the time of Charles I, who founded the office in 1625, but updated itself as conventions changed. Bliss, however, favoured the use of the k and so it became a sort of tradition to use it again during his tenure of the title." Q2: Is there any way in which the Society could alert members more quickly to forthcoming performances of Bliss works? I know that they usually appear on the website a reasonable time in advance, but one cannot keep looking at the website. A: Unfortunately we cannot afford to post extra notices to every member, but we now email those members who have given us email contact addresses and their permission for us to use them for circulars. These are sent to 'Undisclosed Recipients' and no names or addresses are revealed. Please remember that we can only put on the website those performances we know about. We try to keep our collective eyes and ears open, but some slip past us. Please help by telling us of any forthcoming performance of Bliss work you hear of, however small the event. If you have not given us an email contact but have one and would like to be included, please contact the webteam. Q3: I would like to find a Bliss piece suitable for my small but enthusiastic church choir. Can you suggest something? A: A recording (Priory PRCD 645) by The Collegiate Singers (conducted by Andrew Millinger) gives a comprehensive selection of Arthur Bliss's shorter choral pieces, and is an excellent point of reference. Most of his choral output was published by Novello, and further information can be obtained by contacting the parent company, The Music Sales Group, on 01284 702 600, or music@musicsales.co.uk Q4: Did Sir Arthur compose any hymns for church worship? We know of three: 1967   He is The Way    tune: Santa Barbara 1967   Sweet Day, So Cool     tune: Pen Selwood 1970   Christ is Alive   tune: Mortlake Q5: Have you any information about Sir Arthur's Presidency of the Bath Bach Choir? We have the following information from officers of the current choir: "He was appointed Choir President at the unanimous invitation of the whole City of Bath Bach Choir in August 1959 in succession to Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams OM, and we have in our possession both the letters from the Choir’s founder and first musical director, Cuthbert Bates, to Sir Arthur, and Sir Arthur’s gracious acceptance in his own handwriting on letter paper from him as the Master of the Queen’s Musick at 8, The Lane, Marlborough Place N.W.8.  Sir Arthur held the post until his death and was succeeded in post by Sir David Willcocks who remains our President [he died 2015]. It would seem from our archives that Sir Arthur was an active President, and encouraged the choir greatly in its activities throughout his tenure in office. He gave particular attention and support to the periodic Bath Bach Festivals which were organised by the City of Bath Bach Choir at that time, and appears to have dedicated a work to the Choir in 1963.  Regrettably we seem to have no record of that work (nor even copies of programmes or programme notes from that time)."
The Arthur Bliss Society
Enquiries
Please contact the appropriate person to answer your query (see contacts page).
Comment: In the Spring Newsletter 2005 the Editor said that Tobias and the Angel was one of the first ever operas written for television. The BBC regards it as the very first. In their website history of musical commissions they say, "1960 saw the first UK opera written specifically for television: Tobias and the Angel by Sir Arthur Bliss. The Master of the Queen's Music, Bliss had been administrator of the BBC music department from 1942 and a strong voice on its music advisory committee; if anyone knew how to live up to the demands of the TV studio, it was him."
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