Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeFirst
Broadcast
Comments
0120100816

Forget Samuel Sebastian Wesley as a pillar of the Anglican Cathedral world.

He was an eccentric, inconsistent and irascible character, who frequently abandoned his Sunday duties of conducting the choir or playing the organ, to visit the nearest river for fishing.

His life is one of regret, having left the world of musical opportunities in London at an early age, to be from that point considered a composer of Church music.

His career spans many Churches and Cathedrals, most of which he resigned from under circumstances relating to his neglect of duties, and his outspoken views concerning the clergy's power over music.

Wesley is largely forgotten today, but during his time he was rated highly by the likes of Gounod, Parry and Elgar, and he even got to perform duets with Rossini - his father was also a celebrated composer.

Other relatives of note include his great uncle John Wesley - the preacher, and his grandfather Charles - the hymn writer.

However, S.

S.

Wesley was illegitimate, and he and his siblings were largely shunned by their extended family.

Donald Macleod marks the bicentenary of Wesley's birth, surveying the life and music of this bad tempered composer.

His career took him from London to Hereford, then on to Exeter and Leeds, moving on again to Winchester and then Gloucester.

However, Wesley for most of his life wished to return to Devon where he'd been happiest in that rural landscape, fishing in the local streams and rivers.

He eventually got his wish upon his deathbed, being returned to Exeter to be buried next to his baby daughter.

Throughout the week there will be a number of special recordings made for the series, including performances by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Singers, and former New Generation artist, the pianist Tom Poster.

In the first of this week's exploration of Wesley's life and music, Donald Macleod looks at the composer's childhood and early career, including rare works such as his piano Waltz, the Benedictus for voices and piano, and the orchestral Overture in E.

Donald Macleod celebrates the 200th year since the birth of Samuel Sebastian Wesley.

0220100817

Forget Samuel Sebastian Wesley as a pillar of the Anglican Cathedral world - he was an eccentric, inconsistent and irascible character - Donald Macleod marks the bicentenary of Wesley's birth, surveying the composer's life and music.

Wesley was very unhappy at Hereford Cathedral, and sought a new position elsewhere.

He eventually moved to Exeter Cathedral, but not before he married the sister of the Dean of Hereford.

Once at Exeter, Wesley soon was involved in local organisations such as the Glee Club, and the Devon Madrigal Society.

In today's episode, Donald Macleod introduces a glee, I wish to tune my quiv'ring lyre, which won Wesley a prize from the Manchester Glee Club.

Also the anthem Let us lift up our heart, which Wesley composed when he wasn't too busy out fishing, and neglecting his Cathedral duties.

Rare works by SS Wesley - his competition-winning Glee and the Symphony in C.

0320100818

Forget Samuel Sebastian Wesley as a pillar of the Anglican Cathedral world - he was an eccentric, inconsistent and irascible character - Donald Macleod marks the bicentenary of Wesley's birth, surveying the composer's life and music.

Wesley's relationship with the Dean and Chapter at Exeter Cathedral turned very sour.

He was invited to Leeds to give the opening recital on their new organ, and soon accepted the post of organist there.

During his time at Leeds, Wesley was in demand as an organist all over the country, but he also started to put into print his views of the Clergy's control over music.

In today's episode Donald Macleod traces Wesley's move from rural Devon to the industrialised north - a move the composer regretted for the rest of his life.

Also there is the Magnificat from Wesley's service in E, which he published accompanied by an introduction in which he publically criticised Cathedrals for their inadequate choirs and organs.

Wesley's disputes with Exeter Cathedral precipitate a move to the industrialised North.

0420100819

Forget Samuel Sebastian Wesley as a pillar of the Anglican Cathedral world - he was an eccentric, inconsistent and irascible character - Donald Macleod marks the bicentenary of Wesley's birth, surveying the composer's life and music.

Although the city of Leeds was sad to see Wesley leave, he had again fallen out with the clergy over his outspoken views, and absenteeism.

Wesley now took a new post at Winchester Cathedral, and for a period, worked harmoniously with the Precentor there - that is until a new Precentor arrived introducing his own music into the services.

In today's programme Donald Macleod charts Wesley's move from Leeds to Winchester, including a new enterprise for the composer into the realm of hymnody, and his most famous hymn tune - Aurelia.

Also, the BBC Singers perform an anthem not heard since 1854 - By the word of the Lord.

Another dispute forces Wesley to move from Leeds to Winchester.

05 LAST20100820

Forget Samuel Sebastian Wesley as a pillar of the Anglican Cathedral world - he was an eccentric, inconsistent and irascible character - Donald Macleod marks the bicentenary of Wesley's birth, surveying the composer's life and music.

One final move for Wesley from Winchester Cathedral to Gloucester, where in the final years of his life, he was little concerned with his contractual duties.

His acceptance of the post at Gloucester caused quite a shock - one Canon noted, "it was as if the Archbishop of Canterbury had applied for a minor Canonry." Wesley finally got his wished-for return to Devon though, when he was buried at Exeter next to the grave of his daughter.

For one who gave so much music to the Anglican Church, his funeral was conducted in silence with no music at all.

In this final episode, Donald Macleod charts Wesley's final years, including a work commissioned by Charles Gounod - The Praise of Music - and Wesley's most famous anthem - Ascribe unto the Lord - which the composer orchestrated later in life.

Wesley finally gets his wish to return to Devon, via Gloucester.