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The Songs of Roger Quilter



Few composers – especially song composers – can claim to have written works that have remained in print since they were first published more than a hundred years ago. Roger Quilter is one such, though the number of his songs still in print is regrettably small. He wrote about 140 songs and arrangements. Quilter studied piano at the Frankfurt Conservatory, where his fellow students included Cyril Scott, Balfour Gardiner, and Percy Grainger. They were known as the Frankfurt Group, though they had little in common beyond a dislike of Beethoven. Quilter took the drawing-room song into another world: the sound and style is warm, tonal though often highly chromatic with an almost iridescent quality, a generous-sounding late-flowering Romantic colour, and highly sensitive to the text. Quilter worked in great detail on a song, refining it meticulously, and the resultant ease of sound belies the work that went into it. These songs are immensely rewarding to sing and play, and exploration reveals more and more of the skill that went into them, and their sheer musical depths. Most of his songs sit best on tenor and baritone voices: most, but not all, and many of the songs which are particularly suited to a woman’s voice are included here. The selection ranges from songs from 1907, to one published the year before he died, with most from his middle years, when he was at his most vibrant.

The Songs of Roger Quilter