Some history of performances of Procter-Gregg's music
 
Programme of BBC broadcast in 1962
 

Ad Solem Ensemble - James Davies and Julian Webb (violins), Paul Cropper (viola) Charles Meert (cello), Manchester University Chorus, Maurice Aitchison (piano)

 

Madrigal by Orlando di Lasso

'Hark, hark the echo falling'

 

Madrigal by Thomas Weelkes

'Lady, your Eye'

 

Five Piano Preludes by Humphrey Procter-Gregg

(C major, E minor, E major, A major, F major)

 

String Quartet No.1 in F sharp minor by Humphrey Procter-Gregg

 

Three Madrigals by Humphrey Procter-Gregg

Love is a Sickness (words by Samuel Daniel)

To Blossoms (words by Robert Herrick)

Cupid and Campaspe (words by John Lyly)

 

Three Piano Preludes by Humphrey Procter-Gregg

(B flat minor, E flat minor, G major)

 

Quartettsatz in C minor by Franz Schubert

 

Two Songs for chorus by Frederick Delius

On Craig Ddu (words by Arthur Symons)

A Midsummer Song (words byArthur Symons)

 
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Review from Manchester Guardian – date?

Violin and Piano

Last night in the Worthington Hall of the Manchester University violin and piano sonatas were played by Mr Clifford Knowles and Mr Maurice Aitchison. The two artists opened their recital with Mr H. Procter-Gregg’s Second Sonata. This work, which is built up on a foundation of romantic harmony, includes during its three movements some striking dramatic adventures. The sonata is extremely accomplished in style, and a point well worth noting is that it remains true to the nature of the instruments. The violin part is very freely written but it does not deal in those hops, skips, and jumps which are really alien to the character of the medium, though such features seem to be popular among many contemporary composers. All who have reasons of their own for going on expeditions among modern musical pieces will find ample rewards within the technical and emotional range of Mr. Procter-Gregg’s sonata. This is music that carries the impress of a mind that is both critical and creative. 
                                                                                                                                                                  G. A. H.

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Review by Edward Greenfield on 1 Aug 1978 of BBC Radio 3 broadcast

Humphrey Procter-Gregg

Barring the name of Ernestine Schumann-Heink, that of Humphrey Procter-Gregg must be the most imposing in music. Imposing of figure too, a distinguished administrator and academic, he is yet not the sort of man I ever expected to deliver himself as a composer. All the more welcome to find Radio 3 celebrating his 83rd birthday this week with a programme of piano music he has been writing during his retirement in Windermere, a whole series of Westmorland Sketches.

 

The wonder is that this somewhat forbidding figure (at least to a stranger) has written music so totally unpretentious, the opposite of imposing. Plainly it tells us how happy the composer’s retirement has been – music which fits beautifully under the fingers (at least those of the dedicated pianist, Maurice Aitchison) and which explores the sort of subject areas, Nature and the seasons, which British composers used to share with their Georgian contemporaries.

 

The announcer’s introduction promised us music influenced by Delius (apt for a former friend and colleague of Beecham) but the style was fresher than that, more like early Bridge or Ireland. I was sorry that the viola sonata also included in the programme (with Paul Cropper as soloist) was not so revealing of private emotion and did not fit anything like so easily under the fingers of a viola player, but then sonata form has any composer on his best public behaviour. And maybe this was music from an earlier and less uninhibited period of P-G’s life.

 

Lastly came the latest set of Westmorland Sketches, four seasonal pieces, just as unashamedly conservative of idiom as the earlier ones but if anything showing a greater delight than ever in keyboard sonorities. May he long continue.

 
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A Little Bite Music – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester – Friday 5 Sugust 2005

 

The Music Serenade

 

Robert Ashworth (horn), Richard Howarth (violin), Ian Buckle (piano)

 

The Music Serenade, formed in 1978, is Opera North’s longest established chamber ensemble. Imaginative programming is a key element in its work, mixing familiar works with rarely performed ‘treasures’. It is renowned for its performances at music festivals, societies and venues thoroughout the North.

 

Robert Ashworth studied at the RNCM. After freelancing with most of the regional orchestras he was appointed Principal Horn with the Orchestra of Opera North in 1978. He is an active member of both the British Horn Society and the International Horn Society. With his Opera North colleagues, he recently founded the Opera North Horn Club – providing a forum for professional, amateur and student horn players. As well as teaching at Leeds University, he has appeared with the Poyal Opera House Covent Garden, LSO, RPO, Hanover Band, the Sixteen and the Academy of Ancient Music.

 

Richard Howarth has worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, as Assistant Leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra and as Leader of the Ulster Orchestra. He has appeared as soloist with the Ulster Orchestra, RTE Symphony Orchestra in Dublin and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and has been a regular guest leader with several orchestras including the BBC Welsh and Scottish Symphony Orchestras, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. Richard was appointed Leader of Manchester Camerata in 1989. He formed Manchester Camerata Ensemble in 1990, and is a member of Trio Melzi with pianist Sarah Beth Briggs and cellist Jonathan Price. Conducting appearances have included concerts with the Manchester, London and Scottish Concert Orchestras and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

Ian Buckle works as soloist, accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher. He studied at the Royal Northen College of Music with Marjorie Clementi and Martin Roscoe. As concerto soloist Ian has appeared alongside conductors Yan Pascal Tortelier, En Shao, Edward Warren, Anthony Inglis and Gerard Schwarz. His London debut came in 1996 with a recital at Wigmore Hall, and he has given recitals in the Harrogate, Buxton, Huddersfield and Lichfield festivals and the Ribble Valley International Piano Week. He has performed in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and Canada. He works regularly with the Zephyr Winds and the Elysnan Horn Trio. His commitment to contemporary music is represented in his work with the chamber groups Ensemble 10:10 and Ensemble Firebird. He combines his performing career with his current position as pianist-in-residence at Huddersfield University and teaching posts at Leeds University and the Junior RNCM. Future engagements include concertos with the Orchestra of Opera North, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Manchester Concert Orchestra. Several recording projects are in the pipeline.

 

Programme

 

Sonata in A for horn and piano (1975)                                                          H Procter-Gregg
                  Andante mosso – Poco lento – Allegro con spirito e giocoso

Quatre Petites Pièces Op.32                                                                         Charles Koechlin
                  Andante – Tres modéré – Allegretto quasi andantino – Scherzando

Westmoreland Sketches                                                                                H Procter-Gregg
                  Summer Dreams – Autumn Reflections

Horn Trio in Eb from K407 (386c)                                                                  W A Mozart
                  Allegro – Andante – Rondo Allegro

 
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Programme from lunchtime concert 13 October 2005


Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama
Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall


Concert supported by the Ida Carroll Trust

 

Humphrey Procter-Gregg                                        Westmoreland Sketches Volume 2
Frederick Chopin                                                    Scherzo No 3 in C sharp minor, Op 39
Humphrey Procter-Gregg                                        Westmoreland Sketches Volume 3

 

David Fanning – piano

 

Humphrey Procter-Gregg – P-G to all who knew him – was Professor of Music at the Victoria University of Manchester from 1954, having founded the Department on his appointment as Reader in 1936 (in those days student numbers were typically six in each year….). Previously he had worked as opera manager and producer at the Royal College of Music, Covent Garden, the British National Opera Company and the Carl Rosa Opera Company. During his time in Manchester he founded the Ad Solem chamber ensemble – with Paul Cropper as violist (uncle of Peter, of the Lindsays) – and he conducted the university orchestra. His manuscripts are now housed in the Special Collections of the John Rylands University Library; they include numerous songs, a number of which were published by Boosey and Hawkes in the 1920s, sonatas for various instruments, a Clarinet Concerto and a number of works for voice and orchestra. In 1972 he was awarded the CBE for his services to music. Since his death in 1980, his generous bequest to Music at this university [Manchester] has funded awards for undergraduates in composition and performance.

 

On his retirement in 1962 Procter-Gregg left his house in Platt Lane [Manchester], briefly became the first Director of the London Opera Centre, then moved to Windermere, near his birthplace, to a house with views over the lake to the Langdales. Here he wrote two books about Sir Thomas Beecham and assembled his 27 Westmoreland Sketches. Their posthumous publication, by Forsyths in 1983, was overseen by his friend and colleague, the pianist Maurice Aitchison.

 

In his Preface, the composer states:
'These short pieces for the pianoforte are (all but two) the product of retirement, after a life of varied activities, into the (so far unspoilt) scenery of my native Westmoreland. The musical ideas spring directly from impressions revived by the fells, woods, lakes, ‘becks’ and hill-farms of this unique and romantic little county. The glory of some of its old families has departed, and the ‘progress’ of transport has involved certain of the horrors of modern mechanisation, but the seasons still bring many colours and splendours to these beautiful byways of a byegone age, in which I am fortunate to spend a few years before commercialisation has been able to do its worst.'

 

Incidentally, the curious numbering of No.8 comes about because Procter-Gregg regarded the more ornate 8b as a replacement for 8a. However, since the earlier piece strikes me as in no way inferior to the rest of the collection, it seemed a shame not to include it. Today’s performances, and those I gave of volumes 1 and 4 last December, constitute the first public performance of the complete cycle.
                                                                                                                                                                  David Fanning

 

David Fanning is a Professor of Music at the University of Manchester, author of books on Shostakovitch and Nielsen, and a reviewer for The Daily Telegraph and Gramophone. He studied on Manchester’s ‘Joint Course', his teacher at the RNCM being Sulamita Aronovsky. For 25 years he partnered the Lindsays in the chamber repertoire, a role he is looking forward to continuing with the Quatuor Danel.
                 

 
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Programme from Faculty of Music, 31 October 1975

repeated at The Theatre-in-the-Forest, Grizedale, Cumbria on 13 March 1976

 

Recital of Music by Humphrey Procter-Gregg

 

                  Clifford Knowles (violin)
                  Paul Cropper (viola)
                  Robert Ashworth (horn)
                  Michael Almond (piano)

 

Sonata in A major for horn and piano
                  Andante mosso
                  Poco lento
                  Allegro con spirito e giocoso

 

Sonata in F sharp minor for viola and piano              
                  Allegro largo
                  Andante sostenuto
                  Allegro

INTERVAL

 

Piano solos: from “Westmoreland Sketches”
                  No.7 in A major
                  No.6 in C major
                  No.23 in E minor “Shower in Spring”
                  No.24 in B flat minor “Summer Dream”

Four Studies
                  E flat minor
                  C major
                  B major
                  B minor

 

Sonata in C major for violin and piano

                  Allegro moderato
                  Con moto e scherzando
                  Molto moderato – allegro con brio

 

This evening’s recital of works by Humphrey Procter-Gregg is being given in his honour by a few of his friends, old and new, to mark the occasion of his eightieth birthday which he celebrated during the summer. 'P-G' (as he is universally known) is remembered with gratitude and affection by several generations of students and former colleagues at Manchester University, where for nearly thirty years he was Head of the Music Department, latterly as the University’s first Professor of Music.

 

In earlier days his career ran along altogether less academic lines, being specially concerned with the fate of opera in this country in the years following the First World War. It was in this context that his lifelong friendship with that greatest and most magnetic of all English conductors, Sir Thomas Beecham, first blossomed. Late fruit of this friendship was the book ‘Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor and impresario, as remembered by his friends and colleagues’ which P-G compiled and edited as a labour of love in the years following Beecham's death in 1961.


A man of wide-ranging interests in all the arts, P-G has ever been active in the cause of English music and musicians, and of opera in English, with many eminently practicable translations and several opera directorships to his credit. He has been unflagging in his enthusiastic support of chamber music: more than one string quartet owed its success, and indeed its very existence, to his unstinting advice and encouragement, whilst towards the end of his tenure of the Chair of Music at Manchester he was able to found the Ad Solem Ensemble, which has for the last fourteen years given recitals in the Faculty of Music, and also to design the concert hall [in Denmark Road] where these recitals take place, acoustically one of the best halls for chamber music in the north of England. (It is a matter for great regret that with the advancing redevelopment of the site its days may soon be numbered.)


Like Beecham, P-G always had a deep love and understanding of the music of Delius and in his own works this aesthetic affinity is undoubtedly declared, even though he always speaks with a distinctive and personal voice, quite unmistakeable to those of us, all too few, who have known his music for a span of time. There is also a profound feeling for the beauty - and essential sadness - of the natural world, perhaps particularly the ageless beauty of the hills, the lakes and the dales of his native Westmorland. Anyone who has seen the sun re-appear and heard birdsong after a hail shower over the Langdales in late April will see the point of the Westmoreland Sketch entitled "Shower in Spring" straightaway. In his retirement Humphrey Procter-Gregg, C.B.E., Emeritus Professor of Music in the University of Manchester, lives at Windermere within sight of the Langdales. Those of us who are taking part in the music-making this evening hope to be able to communicate something of his vision to a wider audience: and the composer himself introduces the music in the programme note which follows.
                                                                                                                                                                                    M.A.

 

'By way of introduction to the three sonatas chosen for this evening I would say: all are in three movements, all last around twenty minutes, all are constructed on tunes and tonalities still respectable in my young days, and I still like it that way. The first two are for instruments with a small solo repertory and were written for tonight’s performers.

 

The horn, with its lovely sound and huge compass nevertheless has intrinsic difficulties (imperceptible in the orchestra) which in Chamber Music set problems pneumatic and hydraulic for writer and  performer: audiences should wisely ignore them, realising that its eloquence must be shaped in shorter, separate periods than that of most wind instruments. In the first movement of this work (early 1975) the mood is cheerful and lyrical: the customary two tunes are developed with the help of an opening rhythmic figure: the close is contented and serene. The second movement is nostalgic – it might recall De Vigny’s


                  Dieu! Que le son du Cor est triste au fond des bois!


The last movement cheers up considerably in a fugal style which is almost jocular: it plays at solemnity in the middle, and end in a burst of gaiety.


The sonata for viola, a more sombre instrument, dates from the war years, but looks back much further to years of adolescence, break-up of the family home and one’s first urges towards musical expression. The slow movement in theme and idiom has a feeling of “Old, forgotten far-off things and battles long ago”. The last movement takes a grip on the situation and adopts a musical purpose vigorous if not entirely optimistic.


The sonata for violin I can only date between 1938-40. It draws on no environmental influences unless perhaps those of the northern countryside and is simply romantic in feeling. There is no slow movement: instead is a capricious scherzo relieved, in spite of itself, by another romantic tune, rather Highland in style – I got fond enough of it to admit a brief echo in the close of the third movement, which has a slow, contemplative opening before it breaks into carefree rhapsody uncharacteristic of this day and age.


The pianoforte pieces have been taken from the output of many years: four books of “Westmoreland Sketches” from those of my retirement, and the studies from a still longer period, the first and third from 1937-38 and the other two from 1965-66.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          H. P-G.

 

Aprops of tonight’s performers….
Cliffiord Knowles, who retired from the leadership of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra last year [1975}, was formerly closely connected with the Faculty of Music, as Paul Cropper and Maurice Aitchison, both founder-members of the original Ad Solem Ensemble, still are. The Horn Sonata was written for Robert Ashworth, third-year student at the Royal Northern College of Music: his partner, Michael Almond, who is also this evening’s solo pianist, is a former student at the Faculty who now holds a Lectureship in Music at Salford University.

 
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Programme from concert on 30 October 1980 at 12:40 pm

University of Salford Department of Music, Peel Hall


MEMORIAL RECITAL for Humphrey Procter-Gregg CBE (1895-1980)


Michael Almond – piano
Paul Almond – violin

 

Study Caprice in E flat minor (1937)

 

Lyrical Study (1965)

 

Sonata for Violin and Piano in F (1947)
                  Allegretto lusingando
                  Andantino
                  Allegro moderato

 

Sonata for Piano in C minor [“The Sea”]
                  Ondoso – andante con moto
                  Andante sostenuto
                  Allegro

 

P-G, as he was known to his friends, died on 13 April this year. Teacher, composer, friend and colleague and later, biographer of Beecham; first Professor of Music at Manchester; Director of Carl Roas Opera and the London Opera Centre: these reflect but a partial view of his long, energetic life. He was awarded the CBE in 1972 for his services to music.

 

Shunning all forms of self-promotion, nearly all his works, which span more than 60 years, are as yet unpublished: this short programme of his own compositions is but a sample of the richness and beauty of his legacy.

                                                                                                                                                                                    M.A.

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Several of Humphrey Procter-Gregg's compositions have been recorded on the Dutton Epoch label.

Clarinet Concerto on Dutton CDLX 7153 - Ian Scott (clarinet) and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Barry Wordsworth. CD Review

Sonata No.3 for violin and piano on Dutton CDLX 7165 - Richard Howarth (violin) and Ian Buckle (piano)

Sonata for clarinet and piano on Dutton CDLX 7165 - Nicholas Cox (clarinet) and Ian Buckle (piano)

Sonata for horn and piano on Dutton CDLX 7165 - Bob Ashworth (horn) and Ian Buckle (piano)

Westmoreland Sketches (Nos.23-26) on Dutton CDLX 7165 - Ian Buckle (piano)