Philip Cannon

Philip Cannon

Philip Cannon (born 21 December 1929) is a British composer.

Brief biography

(Jack) Philip Cannon is a Cornish composer of Anglo-Burgundian descent. As a youth he studied at Dartington with Imogen Holst and later at the Royal College of Music with Gordon Jacob and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. He scored his first success with his symphonic study "Spring" which received its premiere at the proms in 1950 under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult. This was followed soon after by several works that have proved enduringly popular such as the "Cinq Chansons de femme" for soprano and harp and "Son of God" for double chorus (recently recorded by the singers of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in 2005).

After graduating, he received the Octavia travelling scholarship award and proceeded to tour Europe with his new wife, the librettist and writer Jacqueline Laidlaw, visiting and taking part in many workshops with luminaries such as Hindemith.

After returning to England he began his long acquaintance with music education which resulted in appointments as Professor of Composition at the University of Sydney and, later, the Royal College of Music, a post he held until retirement in 1995. A stylistic change of direction in 1964 resulted in his "String Quartet 1964", the first work by an English composer to be awarded both the Grand Prix and the Critics Prize in Paris. A major commission followed resulting in his "Oraison Funebre de l'ame humaine" for strings.

In 1975 he was commissioned to write "Son of Man" to mark Britain's entry into Europe. Shortly after Cannon was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II to compose a "Te Deum" for the Royal Chapel at Windsor. Other chamber works of note appear from this period such as the "Clarinet Quintet" and "Piano Trio" as well as the choral masterpiece "The Temple".

At the start of the 1980s, Cannon's success with his "Lord of Light" requiem was followed by a period of great tragedy after learning that his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. Around the time of her death in 1984, Cannon finished his "String Sextet" which was his last major work for several years. In 1989 he begun his "Ralegh Triptych" which had its premiere in 1994 at the Three Choirs Festival and soon after his song cycle "The Six Birdsongs".

Since an operation for stomach cancer in 1995, Cannon has composed still less frequently although he has continued to write and amass a wealth of recordings detailing his career and experiences. He married the artist Jane, Baroness Buijs van Schouwenburg in 1996. Together they have had rebuilt and old Buckinghamshire cottage he has owned for many years, and retired there to concentrate full-time on creative work.

List of Works

"Morvoren", 1963
"The Man from Venus", 1966-67
"Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde", 1973
"Sinfonietta", (chamber orch) 1947
"Spring", (orchestra), 1949
"Piano Concertino", (piano & strings) 1949
"Fanfares", (8 tpt, 6 trbn, tuba, perc) 1963
"Oraison Funebre de l'ame humaine", (24 solo strings) 1970
"Symphony", (orchestra) 1998-9
"Songs to Delight", (SSA & strings) 1950
"Fleeting Fancies", (SATB) 1953
"Son of God", (double chorus) 1956
"To Music", (SSSA & piano) 1960
"Son of Science", (Tenor, boys choir, perc, piano, strings) 1961
"Idea", (SATB) 1964
"En hiver", (SSSA) 1968
"The Temple", (SSATB) 1974
"Son of Man", (T, Bar, SATB, orch) 1975
"Te Deum", (SATB, org, (state) tpt, orch) 1975
"Lord of Light", (soprano,tenor,baritone, boys vv, SATB, org, orch) 1980
"Missa Chorea", (solo vv, double semi-chorus, double chorus) 1984
"A Ralegh Triptych", (SATB) 1989-91
"Cinq Chansons de femme" (soprano & harp) 1952
"Cecilia", (1 voice & harp) 1953
"River Lullaby", (soprano & piano) 1962
"Three Rivers", (tenor & piano) 1963
"Six Bird Songs", (coloratura s & piano) 1993
"Le Mort", (baritone & piano) 1998
"Two Rhapsodies", (piano) 1943
"String Quartet", 1945
"String Trio", 1945
"Sextet", (flute, oboe and string quartet) 1945
"Fantasia", (string quartet) 1946
"Variations for two violins", 1946
"Variations on a canto firmo", (violin) 1948
"Galop Parisien", (two pianos) 1950
"L'enfant s'amuse", (piano) 1954
"Carillon", (harp) 1955
"Carillon", (organ) 1955
"Sonatine Champetre", (for piano) 1959
"Sonata" (two pianos) 1960
"String Quartet", 1964
"Jazz and Blues", (piano) 1970
"Piano Trio", (piano, violin & cello) 1973-4
"Clarinet Quintet", (clarinet & string quartet) 1977
"Boutades Bourguignonnes", (piano) 1984
"String Sextet", (2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos) 1985
"Trois Chiffres", (piano) 1994
"Carillon "Joyeux Noel" (harp) 1994
"Septain" (piano) 1995


*The New Grove
*"The Creative Impact on our Choral Tradition" "250 years of the Three Choirs Festival" (Gloucestrshire, 1977) p46-8
*New English Composers: Philip Cannon "Musical Times ( ci 1960)"
*Rolo Myers: "Philip Cannon: A fresh face in British Music" (Musical Times cvi 1965)
*E. Edelmann: "Philip Cannon" (1974)
*Roderick Dunnett: "An avant-garde romantic" (Church Times 28 Aug, 1992)
*G.Self: "Music in Cornwall: A 20th century mirror" (Camborne, 1997)
*R. Dunnett: "Cannon Chamber works" (The Strad, 1998)

External links


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