King Edward's Music

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

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From Martin Roscoe’s master-class

Martin Roscoe master-class at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Martin Roscoe master-class at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Martin Roscoe master-class at King Edward's School, Birmingham


This event was presented jointly with King Edward VI High School for Girls

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

The Miss Margaret Davis Memorial Recital

Alexander Borodin at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Thursday, 8 October at 1305
Ruddock Performing Arts Centre

Isla May Atay, flute
Daniel Yue, violin
Beth Zheng and Sophia Jin violins, Melissa Yao viola, Isabel Russell cello

works by Debussy, Martinů, Elgar, and Borodin

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

This recital is presented jointly with King Edward VI High School for Girls


Martin Roscoe at King Edward’s School

Martin Roscoe at King Edward's School, Birmingham, Music Department


Friday, 2 October at 1600 — master-class
Ruddock Performing Arts Centre

Martin Roscoe works with the pianists of King Edward’s and King Edward VI High School for Girls.

Friday, 2 October at 1900 — recital
Ruddock Performing Arts Centre

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Sonata in D Hob.XVI/37
Ernő Dohnányi (1877-1960): Pastorale (Hungarian Christmas Carol); Rhapsody no.3 in C op.11 no.3
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Sonata in A flat op.110

With an extraordinary career spanning over four decades, Martin Roscoe is unarguably one of the UK’s best loved pianists. Renowned for his versatility at the keyboard, Martin is equally at home in concerto, recital and chamber performances. In an ever more distinguished career, his enduring popularity and the respect in which he is universally held are built on a deeply thoughtful musicianship allied to an easy rapport with audiences and fellow musicians alike.

With a repertoire of over 100 concertos performed or recorded Martin works regularly with many of the UK’s leading orchestras, having especially close links with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Hallé, Manchester Camerata, Northern Chamber Orchestra and with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where he has had over ninety performances. Martin has worked with many eminent conductors, including performances with Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder and Christoph von Dohnányi.

An equally prolific recitalist, Martin has also performed regularly across Europe, the Far East, Australasia and South Africa. His chamber music partnerships include long-standing associations with Peter Donohoe, Tasmin Little and the Endellion and Maggini Quartets as well as more recent collaborations with such artists as Jennifer Pike, Ashley Wass, Matthew Trusler and the Brodsky and Vertavo Quartets. One of his most important chamber music collaborations has developed in recent years: the Cropper Welsh Roscoe Trio. Together the trio have performed many times across the UK, most notably with several series of concerts at London’s Kings Place.

Recent and future engagements include appearances with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Symphony Orchestra, as well as recital performances at the Bridgewater Hall (where Martin is an Associate Artist), Kings Place, Musée d’Orsay, Wigmore Hall and Festival of the Sound, Parry. Martin is also Artistic Director of Ribble Valley International Piano Week, and Beverley Chamber Music Festival, and will succeed Kathy Stott as Artistic Director of the Manchester Chamber Music Society at the start of the 2014/15 season.

Having had over 500 broadcasts, including seven BBC Prom appearances, Martin is one of the most regularly played pianists on BBC Radio 3. Martin has also made many commercial recordings for labels such as Hyperion, Chandos and Naxos. He has recorded the complete piano music of Nielsen and Szymanowski, as well as four discs in the Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto series. Martin is in the process of recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas for the Deux-Elles label. The first three discs have been released to unanimous critical acclaim. The Independent described the sonatas as being “all delivered with Roscoe’s typically scrupulous attention to detail and emotional truth”. The second disc includes the Waldstein Sonata, and was proclaimed on BBC Radio 3 as “one of the truly great recordings of the Waldstein Sonata” … “perfect musical judgement and a formidable technique from Martin Roscoe”.

Teaching has always been an important part of Martin’s life and the development of young talent helps him to constantly re-examine and re-evaluate his own playing. He is currently a Professor of Piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London and has just been awarded his Fellowship there.

Martin lives in the beautiful English Lake District. Being in this wonderful place provides inspiration and relaxation, and also enables him to indulge his passions for the countryside and hill-walking.

You can read more at:
This event is presented jointly with King Edward VI High School for Girls

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel and the Chief Master

Alfred Brendel at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel and John Claughton, Chief Master of King Edward’s School.

John Claughton, Chief Master, said: “It was a rare privilege for all of us to welcome one of the world’s greatest musicians to the school and it was an unforgettable occasion both for those who have listened to Brendel play throughout their lives and for pupils whose musical careers are beginning. He spoke about the nature of music and art with a wisdom born of a lifetime’s dedication.

“This school has a great tradition in music, producing exceptional players through a 90-strong Symphony Orchestra, providing nearly 20 different musical groups and a choir of 150 boys. So, to hear such a man in the beautiful surroundings of the Ruddock Hall was an unforgettable moment for all of us.”

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham





Five-star review in the Birmingham Post

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School.

He may have retired from the concert platform but Alfred Brendel remains a consummately communicative performer.

On Tuesday the pianist held 500 listeners in the palm of his hand as he delivered what was the fifth Tolkien Lecture in the magnificent Ruddock Hall within King Edward VI School’s remarkable new performing arts building.

Introducing his distinguished guest, Chief Master John Claughton revealed that KES Old Boy J.R.R.Tolkien in fact came from a family of piano manufacturers – a neat link as Brendel launched into a talk derived from his own masterly book, A Pianist’s A to Z.

Speaking from a lifetime of experience, Brendel addressed so many aspects of the performer’s art – how to balance intellect and emotion, how to observe the way vocalists and conductors cultivate and phrase singing lines (in other words the importance of a “cantabile tone – playing out of the instrument’s keys, not hitting out at them), and, perhaps most strikingly, how a pianist should take composition lessons from a good teacher in order fully to appreciate considerations of structure, notation and general cohesion.

Brendel’s talk was peppered with anecdotes and jokes, often mischievous, and always tellingly pertinent. He also included recorded examples from pianists he particularly admired (“on a good day, when the wind was blowing in the right direction for them”) – Edwin Fischer in Bach, Alfred Cortot in Chopin, and offerings by Schumann and Haydn where he didn’t identify the performer; modestly, perhaps they were from himself.

And his facial expressions during the Haydn extract illustrating humour in music were almost as eloquent as had been his fingers during the many decades when his playing spoke so much to us all.

Christopher Morley
24 September, 2015

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Tomorrow: Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School

Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture is tomorrow at 1830 in the Ruddock Hall of the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre at King Edward’s School.

A final video, then, to celebrate this great man, and to whet your appetite. This is one of Mozart’s most powerful piano sonatas (his KV457), in a glorious performance:





Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — three days to go

With three days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

When he retired from the keyboard, Alfred Brendel turned to poetry. Today’s selection is his poem, ‘Cologne’:

The Coughers of Cologne
have joined forces with the Cologne Clappers
and established the Cough and Clap Society
a non-profit-making organization
whose aim it is
to guarantee each concert-goer’s right
to cough and applaud
Attempts by unfeeling artists or impresarios
to question such privileges
have led to a Coughers and Clappers initiative
Members are required to applaud
immediately after sublime codas
and cough distinctly
during expressive silences
Distinct coughing is of paramount importance
to stifle or muffle it
forbidden on pain of expulsion
Coughs of outstanding tenacity
are awarded the Coughing Rhinemaiden
a handsome if slightly baroque appendage
to be worn dangling from the neck
The C&C’s recent merger
with the New York Sneezers
and the London Whistlers
raises high hopes
for Cologne’s musical future


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — four days to go

With four days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel was one of the first artists to explore fully the music of Liszt, valuing it not just for its virtuosity, but also for its musical innovation and extraordinary imaginative power.

Brendel describes Liszt as the ‘Romantic sovereign of the piano … [the] Radical precursor of modernity … the piano’s supreme artist.’

Today’s performance is of Liszt’s second piano concerto:

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — five days to go

With five days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel’s lecture is entitled ‘A-Z, A Pianist’s Alphabet’. In 2013 he published a little book of thoughts and aphorisms of a similar title. From this, today’s selection is Alfred Brendel’s entry for ‘Silence’:

‘Silence is the basis of music. We find it before, after, in, underneath and behind the sound. Some pieces emerge out of silence or lead back into it.

But silence ought also to be the core of each concert. Remember the anagram: listen=silent.’


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — six days to go

With six days to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Alfred Brendel was the first to record the complete piano works of Beethoven, and today’s selection is his mighty 1970 performance of the mightier-yet Hammerklavier (op.106).

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School — one week to go

With one week to go before Alfred Brendel’s Tolkien lecture, we have a chance to explore the artistry of this fascinating man.

Today, one his most celebrated performances of a composer he did more than anyone in the twentieth century to champion, Franz Schubert. Brendel describes Schubert as ‘the most astonishing phenomenon in musical history.’

This is the first piece from Schubert’s late Klavierstücke (D946) in a recording described as ‘one of the classics of the gramophone.’


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Alfred Brendel at King Edward’s School

Alfred Brendel's Tolkien lecture for the Music Department of King Edward's School, Birmingham.

This year’s Tolkien lecture, the fifth in the series, is given by one of the greatest musicians of the last century, Alfred Brendel. His career as a performer lasted 60 years and involved appearances with the leading orchestras and conductors of the world. He was also the first pianist to record of all Beethoven’s piano works. His final concert appearance was with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2008 and since then he has taken to writing and delivering lectures, poetry readings, and master-classes. He has recently spoken at the Festivals of Salzburg, Verbier, in the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, and at Princeton, Yale, and Cambridge.

Mr. Brendel’s title is ‘A-Z, A Pianist’s Alphabet’.

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Anne Dawson, our new singing teacher

Anne Dawson, singing teacher at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Anne Dawson studied with Caroline Crawshaw at the Royal Northern College of Music, and was the winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship. She enjoyed a significant career, singing principal roles with all the major British Opera companies and in Amsterdam, Geneva, Lausanne, Frankfurt, Paris, Strasbourg, Maastricht, Potsdam, and Vancouver.

She has performed and recorded with Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Charles Groves, Sir Bernard Haitink, Sir Richard Armstrong, Sir Mark Elder, Sir David Willocks, Ton Koopman, Richard Hickox, John Pritchard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yukka Pekka Saraste, Walter Weller, Jacques Delacote, Mariss Jansons, Raymond Leppard, Tadaaki Otaka, Kent Nagano, and Steuart Bedford.

Since making teaching her main focus, she has taught and given classes at New College, Oxford, RNCM, Oundle School, Birmingham University, and Birmingham Conservatoire. She has been an adjudicator of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition.

We are delighted to welcome her to King Edward’s School.


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante

Mozart Sinfonia Concertante at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Mozart had been experimenting with the Sinfonia concertante genre whilst on a tour of Europe in 1778 – 1779 and produced three works of the genre: one for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and orchestra, which is of questionable authenticity; one for violin, viola, cello and orchestra, which was abandoned partway through the first movement; and the present work, which is widely considered to be his most effective crossover between symphony and concerto. It is a concerto in that the soloists are prominent throughout the piece, and it is a symphony in that the soloists are nevertheless part of the ensemble as a whole in the conveying of musical ideas. The work is unusual, however, in that the viola section is divided into two like the violins, lending a richer texture to the orchestral sound; furthermore, the viola part was originally written in D major, with the instruction that the viola be tuned a semitone sharp in order to give it a more brilliant sound. Unfortunately, most modern violists would not think of putting such strain on their instruments and simply play the part in E-flat.

The first movement is in sonata form with an introduction and a coda; the orchestra establishes the grand, majestic first subject of the exposition in the introduction. The soloists begin the second subject in unison texture, one octave apart – this unison texture only reappears between the soloists at the beginning of the recapitulation, even though they often play at different intervals elsewhere, lending a magical quality to the return of the second subject. The soloists continue to pass material back and forth, developing it further each time; throughout the movement, rapid, antiphonic semiquaver passages frequently alternate between soloists like dialogue. The development features a brief repose, introducing a mournful, minor melody which is flexible in tempo, contrasting with the bright, major themes of the exposition. The violin precedes the viola in the introduction of new material in the exposition and development, whereas during the recapitulation, which only briefly revisits the first subject, the viola precedes the violin; following the recapitulation is a cadenza shared by the soloists, in which rapid string crossings and double stops are exhibited. The orchestra concludes the movement with a coda which is reminiscent of the end of the introduction.

The Andante movement is in the relative minor, C minor, and begins with the orchestra stating the opening theme, a sorrowful, melancholy melody that is subsequently embellished by the solo violin. The solo viola then begins the same theme, but expands upon it and modulates to the relative major. The soloists then pass the melody back and forth, echoing each other and decorating the melody. We frequently hear the soloists in canon, as well as the violin and viola sections of the orchestra. Mozart also contrasts dense, dark chordal textures from the orchestra with the soloists at higher registers. After arriving back in C minor and reaching a fortissimo climax, the soloists share another cadenza, playing the opening melody in canon, but repeatedly reaching discordant suspensions that are slowly resolved: the cadenza reaches the highest note of the movement before the orchestra quietly echoes a variation of the opening melody, bringing the movement to a close.

The final movement is in sonata rondo form and returns to the original key of E-flat major. The orchestra opens with the first subject of the rondo, a sprightly and energetic melody played by the violin section of the orchestra, followed by the wind. The solo violin introduces the second subject, which is immediately memorable for its brisk ‘scotch snap’ rhythm. When the first subject returns in the rondo/recapitulation, this time played by the soloists, it is in the tonic key; however, the second subject follows in the subdominant via an interrupted cadence, instead of continuing in the tonic as is usual for a movement in sonata form. This allows Mozart to return to the tonic key in the same way as the second subject led into the development, lending a sense of symmetry to the movement. Like the first movement, the order in which the soloists play is reversed in the recapitulation; this is followed by another rondo, which culminates in each soloist soaring to the very top of their instrument’s range (the violin reaches the highest note Mozart ever wrote for the instrument), before the orchestra briefly revisits the rondo, bringing the work to a grand conclusion.

Daniel Yue, Fourths

Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Pop Music Uncovered (Briefly)

What is it?

Pop Music is actually an abbreviation for Popular Music and really means any music that is fashionable and trendy at the time. There are certain elements which define this musical genre. These include generally short to medium-length songs, written in a basic form (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as the common employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks. The key feature of pop music is the hook as it makes the song catchy and therefore memorable.

The term “Pop Music” was first used in the 1880s. However, Grove Music Online claims that pop music is a term originating from Britain in the 1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced. This was the province of the young who defined themselves by urban tastes and interests. Pop is one of the most inclusive genres of music as it can include parts of many others, especially dance, jazz and rock.

General Characteristics:

  • A comfortable length so that the listener doesn’t get bored too easily. This usually means of a length of around 2-4 minutes. This also allows songs to be quickly played over the radio
  • Normally associated with a particular trend – Simon Cowell said “Image is everything”
  • Catchy or irritating to listen to so that you can easily remember it. If a song sticks in your head, it is very difficult to stop thinking about it. Others can also passively learn about new songs via their friends. Memorable choruses are vital to successful pop songs.
  • Something that relates well to children and teenagers as they often decide whether the music is cool or trendy. They also form the largest proportion of the record-buying public.


Music Department at King Edward's School, Birmingham

The MTV logo

Developments and Influences

There are and have been many iconic, memorable and downright controversial people who have been involved in the music and pop business over the years. In 2013 alone, the music industry contributed £3.5 billion to the UK economy. Recent stars such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift have greatly helped the rise of the pop music industry. But before these celebrities were even born, technological advances such as an improved microphone design in the 1940s laid foundations for its development. Also crucially, in the 1950s televisions became commercially available, adding the possibility of a visual dimension to the music and in the 1960s cheap transistor radios were popular amongst teenagers who are still a large target audience today. During the early 1980s icons such as Michael Jackson and Madonna were brought up on and had their careers nurtured by channels such as MTV – a music television channel. These two figures clearly went on to reach the top of the business and helped make MTV the giant of a company that it is today. In other words, in the music world you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours! However, there are many people involved in the industry who work very hard behind the scenes for instance the studio, production, distribution and retail staff.

Music at King Edward's School

Michael Jackson, the king of pop

The business has been dominated by USA and the UK but many smaller countries have their own version of pop music with local characteristics and trends. Grove Music Online stated that “Western derived pop styles have spread throughout the world”. Many non-Western countries however have developed a prosperous pop music industry, most notably Korea for ‘K-pop’ (Korean Pop).

Overall the pop music business is predominantly an international monoculture but has influenced many different parts of the world to create their own versions to fit in with the local cultures and customs.


Rayan De, Fourths


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham

Miles’s Musical Enthusiasm

What Makes a Great Club Classic?

Yes – you guessed it – my musical passion is indeed club classics. I have developed an ear for them from tentatively listening to radio shows over the years (Friday evenings on Heart FM), and hope to share my love with the rest of the world.

Cast your minds back to the 80s – a time when rock was terrorised by misplaced synth and pop was just as bad as it is now. With the biggest genres of modern music evoking disgust across the entire western world, surely society as we know it must have disbanded into anarchy? Well, I wasn’t actually alive back then so I’m not sure. One thing is certain, however: it couldn’t have been that bad because club music was around.

What is club music?

This is a good question to begin with as the answer is not as simple as you may think. “Club music” is a phrase used to describe many different sub-genres that are similar and were all popular in the 70s and 80s. These include electronic, disco, and dance, and the basic gist is that you want to boogie when listening (hence the name “club”).

However, this is crucially not to be confused with the club music we see today; real club actually consisted of more than just an overused riff and a beat drop. Musicians actually exhibited talent throughout the songs, and you could still dance to them (I mean real dancing, not just jumping up and down with your hand in the air): such inviting beats are the essence of the genre.

NB You don’t have to be a good dancer to like club – even though I’m sure you are. (I am certainly not.)

To get you started, I’ll show you a couple of stonking tunes that will hopefully illustrate my point:

The Origins of Club Music

To understand the true meaning of club, one must understand its humble lineages. Now it didn’t all necessarily begin in the 80s – I just wanted to convey my hatred for WHAM!. In fact, it is easiest to define club music as originating at the same time as clubs or discos themselves. In the late 1960s and 70s, as discos came to popularity, instruments usually used in pop and rock music were played in a manner which facilitated dancing. The following tunes were especially famous in the mid-70s:

In the late 70s electronic instruments came into use and this is reflected in many of the club classics we hear from this time. Synthesisers and drum machines are examples of such. “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer was instantly hailed as “the sound of the future” by Brian Eno in 1977 who we now know to have been correct, whoever he was.

N.B: I would not class this as a club classic even though it was very famous; it just triggered an era of electronic songs that would become club classics.

It was these ages that harboured both disco and electronic dance music, collectively called club.

What is a club classic?

Using your newly acquired knowledge of club music and your assumed understanding of the word “classic”, the phrase “club classic” becomes pretty self-explanatory. That’s right – it is a club song that also happens to be a classic; a song that is so good, it has withstood the test of time and appeals even to the delinquents of my age.

Most people will recognise club classics when played because of both their popularity and catchy nature. Hits like “Funkytown” and “Super Freak” are still prevalent today.

So then, what makes a great club classic?

Yes, we have finally reached what you actually came here for: the answer to a question that has plagued philosophers’ minds for years: the difference between a timeless club classic and the soundtrack of a middle-aged booze-up:

  • Good Lyrics

This probably sounds as obvious and ambiguous as it does incorrect, considering most club songs are so unadventurously written about dancing. However, whatever the topic of discussion, short, catchy phrases are paramount in order to grasp the audience’s attention and make the song memorable. The fact that “we are family” is the only line from its namesake song that anyone ever seems to remember illustrates this point aptly.

  • Jammin’ Bass Line

Everybody knows that an instrument as simple and as unassuming as the modest bass is vital in any music, but especially so in club. Such bopping bass lines stitch the fibres of the rhythm and melody while remaining unobtrusively in the background. In fact, the bass is the only instrument that features in every club classic I have shown you thus far (except for drums but they don’t count). This song demonstrates my point, even if slightly contrived…

  • Strong Pulse

*Enter angry mob with torches and pitch forks*

“Every philosopher knew that!”

Calm down everyone! I know, I know. The last two were obvious enough, I know, but a strong beat is still important. Oftentimes in club music you will find that at the beginning of the song the percussion is undecorated for a while before other instruments join in; this establishes a solid beat that can be sustained throughout the song. The presence of such and authoritative pulse entices people to dance.

  • Dancing Coercion (?)

Okay, okay. You couldn’t actually expect me to know all of the material secrets of a good club classic; music isn’t like that – we wouldn’t be able to distinguish real classics if this were the case, and I would have made my fortune writing them by now.

But I digress; by now you must have realised that an unexplainable and undeniable compulsion to dance grips you when a club classic begins to play. This may be down to perhaps the strong initial pulse that I have already mentioned, but that isn’t exclusive to club music. I prefer to think that it’s a special something characteristic of club songs that is much harder to define and therefore makes them so precious.

So there we have it: the features of club classics even if somewhat questionable. If I must be so cheesy as I draw up a conclusion, I will say that music is a complex entity which may not be exactly expressed as a combination of ingredients, meaning, admittedly, my title is slightly misleading although there is some decent knowledge in there. If this answer seems hollow to you, I apologise; feel free to drown you sorrows in such a splendid music library and reminisce about a bygone era. Otherwise, I am glad you are so easily satisfied. Either way, I have certainly enjoyed spending this time with you talking about such a fascinating topic.

Miles McCollum, Fourths


Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham