Arnold Bax: In Memoriam (1916)

Here’s a special treat for all music lovers – the only piece of contemporary classical music written about the 1916 Rising.

In Memoriam was composed by a friend of the Proclamation Signatories in the summer of 1916 and  dedicated to the memory of Patrick Pearse.

Arnold Bax, the composer,  was  also Master of the King’s Music,   knighted in 1937 and appointed Royal Laureate in 1941.

Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) was born  into a wealthy English family and  was extremely gifted in  music.  While still a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London  Bax became fascinated with Ireland and Celtic culture. Reading Yeats’s poems inspired him to visit Donegal where he found that “in a moment the Celt within me stood revealed”

I worked very hard at the Irish language and steeped myself in its history and saga, folk-tale and fairy-lore. … Under this domination, my musical style became strengthened … I began to write Irishly, using figures and melodies of a definitely Celtic curve”.  Bax in his memoirs, 1943

He lived in Dublin from 1911-1913, where he made friends with George Russell (AE), Thomas MacDonagh and Patrick Pearse who thought Bax might have been “one of us”. Poems and stories that he wrote under a pseudonym were banned as they were considered Republican sedition.

Bax  returned to London  at the beginning of WWI and was utterly shocked and distressed  when, two years later,  he heard about the Easter Rising, Pearse’s part in it and the execution of his friends.

Throughout his life  Bax was a regular visitor to Ireland, particularly Glencolumcille in Co Donegal and indeed  died of heart failure while visiting Cork in October 1953.  He is buried  in St Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork

One thought on “Arnold Bax: In Memoriam (1916)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.