Our entertainment can sometimes come at a price for those who entertain us. Many seek an antidote to the bright lights in the quieter, less hectic, more open space of countryside.
Appointed Master of the Queen’s music in 1953, London-born Sir Arthur Bliss had a house in Penselwood for some 20 years, built at the site of Pen Pits, the pre-historic site that produced grain grinding querns.
He served with distinction in the First World War. Thereafter his composition developed and became wide-ranging, leading to him once being described as “far and away the cleverest writer among the English composers of our time”. Maturity led him to the established English musical tradition which caused him to be further described as “Elgar’s natural successor”. From 1942 to 1944 Bliss served as the BBC’s director of music, laying the foundations for the Third Programme, now known as Radio 3.
With Sir William Walton, Benjamin Britten, Peter Maxwell Davies and Richard Rodney Bennett being high profile contemporaries, Sir Arthur Bliss is, perhaps, not a name that comes as easily to mind, but he gave us operas, ballet music, incidental and orchestral work, choral works and concerti as well as chamber music, music for piano, organ and numerous other instruments including brass/military bands plus fanfares, film music, music for radio and TV and hymns.