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Bliss, Sir Arthur (Drummond)

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Bliss, Sir Arthur (Drummond), eminent English composer; b. London, Aug. 2, 1891; d. there, March 27, 1975. He studied counterpoint with Charles Wood at the Univ. of Cambridge (Mus.B., 1913), and then pursued training with Stanford, Vaughan Williams, and Hoist at the Royal Coll. of Music in London (1913–14). While serving in the British Army during World War I, he was wounded in 1916 and gassed in 1918. After the Armistice, he gained recognition as something of an enfant terrible with his Madame Noy for Soprano and 7 Instruments (1918) and Rout for Soprano and 10 Instruments (1920). With such fine scores as A Colour Symphony (1921–22), the Introduction and Allegro for Orch. (1926), the Oboe Quintet (1927), and the Clarinet Quintet (1932), he rose to prominence as a composer of great distinction. His music for H.G. Well’s film Things to Come (1934–35) and the Music for Strings (1935) added luster to his reputation, which was further enhanced by his outstanding ballets Checkmate (1937), Miracle in the Gorbals (1944), and Adam Zero (1946). After a sojourn as a teacher in Berkeley, Calif. (1939–41), Bliss served as director of music for the BBC in London (194244). In 1950 he was knighted and in 1953 he was made the Master of the Queen’s Music. In 1969 he was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and in 1971 a Companion of Honour. G. Roscow ed. Bliss on Music: Selected Writings of Arthur Bliss (1920–1975) (Oxford, 1991).

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