LIFECYCLE op.489 (1996)


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A sequence of 24 pieces for the piano
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Duration: 64 mins
First Performance: Howard Blake, Schloss Rosenegg, Steyr, Austria, 6th August 1996.
Sheet Music Available
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Sheet music available
Recordings Available
ISABELLE und andere Werke fur Harfe
Released: 2017
Recorded: 2017
Artists: Isabelle Marchewka

Lifecycle, piano music of imagination and reflection
Released: 2003
Recorded: 2002
Artists: William Chen (Piano)
Available from: ABC Classics (Australia) Amazon UK

Recorded by William Chen in the Eugene Goossens Hall, Sydney, January 2003 and released with the sub-title 'Piano Music of Imagination and Reflection'

ABC Classics 476 118-4

Movements

  • 1: Prelude: Andantino (1975) 1 minutes 52 seconds
    Opus 489a
  • 2: Nocturne (1975) 3 minutes 24 seconds
    Opus 489b
  • 3: Impromptu (1975) 6 minutes 34 seconds
    Opus 489c
  • 4: Toccatina (1957) 1 minutes 33 seconds
    Opus 489d
  • 5: Mazurka (1970) 2 minutes 07 seconds
    Opus 489e
  • 6: Walking Song (1975) 1 minutes 58 seconds
    Opus 489f
  • 7: Chaconne (1975) 4 minutes 48 seconds
    Opus 489g
  • 8: Scherzo (1975) 3 minutes 07 seconds
    Opus 489h
  • 9: Ballad (1975) 2 minutes
    Opus 489i
  • 10: Rag (1973) 1 minutes 36 seconds
    Opus 489j
  • 11: Study (1975) 3 minutes 04 seconds
    Opus 489k
  • 12: Berceuse (1975) 1 minutes 07 seconds
    Opus 489l
  • 13: Prelude: Allegro Risoluto (1976) 1 minutes 07 seconds
    Opus 489m
  • 14: The Music Box (1979) 3 minutes 13 seconds
    Opus 489n
  • 15: Romanza (1961) 1 minutes 07 seconds
    Opus 489o
  • 16: Dance of the Hunters (1996) 3 minutes 15 seconds
    Opus 489p
  • 17: Dance of the Sun and the Moon (1996) 2 minutes 40 seconds
    Opus 489q
  • 18: Isabelle (1993) 1 minutes 33 seconds
    Opus 489r
  • 19: Serioso . come una Marcia lenta (1968) 2 minutes 53 seconds
    Opus 489s
  • 20: Jump (1976) 49 seconds
    Opus 489t
  • 21: Walking in the Air (1982) 2 minutes 48 seconds
    OPus 489u

    In c# minor, composed as a song for the animated film "The Snowman" in 1982 in Kensington. Transcribed for piano in Kensington in 1996.

  • 22: Night and Day (1993) 2 minutes 56 seconds
    Opus 489v
  • 23: Oberon (1996) 3 minutes 46 seconds
    Opus 489w
  • 24: Make-Believe (1986) 1 minutes 31 seconds
    Opus 489x

Notes


'Lifecycle is a brilliantly conceived piano cycle of ‘imagination and reflection’, combining teaching pieces (the Chaconne and Toccatina are from the Associated Board’s Diploma syllabus) with recital works ranging from the uncompromising technical demands of Scherzo and Oberon, to the outstandingly sublime yet musically powerful Prelude and Nocturne.

Lifecycle covers the composer’s creative life with an extraordinary number of musical connections running through the set, namely the melodic importance of the interval of a third – most often major and rising, the second being the harmony of a bare fifth, again often rising, but equally heard as a chord.

Blake conceived the idea for Lifecycle, a sequence of 24 pieces for the piano, after a conversation with world-renowned pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy in 1962 and dedicates the cycle to this wonderful musician. Although 24 works in the set, it is not a set of Preludes as written by Chopin, Scriabin and Rachmaninov, but there does appear within the cycle one piece in each of the 12 major and 12 minor chromatic keys.'
(from sleeve-note by R. Matthew Walker)

(Incorporates the early '12 Piano Pieces' and includes eight pieces from among them which against the wishes of the composer were titled "Eight Character Pieces" when first published by Faber Music Ltd in 1985.)

Performances

9th March 2017 Isabelle Marchewka, Dusseldorf, Residenz Grafenberger Wald

A composite album of music by William Alwyn, Malcolm Arnold, Howard Blake, Jan Friedlin, Tobias van de Locht and Miklos Rosza

15th July 2016
- 6th August 2016
Quartet de corda com jubilo, Baix Camp, Tarragona (Consell Comarcal del Baix Camp and Comaigua festival) President: Joaquim Calatayud Casals

MUSIC BY HOWARD BLAKE

STRING QUARTETS PLAYED BY THE QUARTET DE CORDA CUM JUBILO (15, 16, 17 JULY)

' A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY'

'SPIELTRIEB'  (WITH QUARTETS BY SHOSTAKOVICH AND BORODIN)

 TRIOS FOR FLUTE , CLARINET AND PIANO (5 AND 6 AUGUST)

  TRIO FOR FLUTE CLARINET AND PIANO op.25 (January 1964)
A Trio In Three Movements derived from the music of Howard's film 'A few
days'
Movements1: Allegretto  2: Andante - Waltz - Andante 3: Allegro Assai

 SUITE: THE DUELLISTS op.603
An arrangement of music from the Ridley Scott's film 'The Duellists'

  INVOCATION  op.601 (June 2009) Concert piece in one movemen

 PENNILLION  op.600 The and variations

From the piano Music Album "Lifecycle", Mrs. Liana Baronaite chooses some of its pieces to  be played as an introduction for the concert.

OTHER PIECES BY FAURE, SAINT-SAENS, MARTINU AND RAVEL

ARS AUREA SONORA (Jordi Borràs Gelonch, manager)
C/St. Vicenç n7 2nd  43392 CASTELLVELL DEL CAMP (TARRAGONA) SPAIN

16th September 2015
- 5th October 2015
Jenni Fleming (piano), Queensland Conservatorium 16 September Gold Coast Arts Centre 5 October

 
Jenni Flemming
Artistic Director 
Australian Piano Duo Festival
 

12th March 2012 Concert by piano pupils of the late Christine Pembridge, including Josie Ellis, Kamali & Tallulah Maidment, Roseanna Capon-Richards, Gaspar Hunt, Peter Copley, Margaret Grimsdell, Howard Blake, James Adutt, Sophia Cheung, Eugenia Cheng, Yuri Paterson-Olenich,


The programme will include works for piano by Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninov etc. and in memory of his teacher Howard will give the first UK performance of  "Speech after long silence" commissioned for the Hong-Kong International Piano Competition in 2011 and a concert piano version of "Walking in the Air" .



 

 

11th July 2008 Nadia Giliova, Wigmore Hall

(selected works)

29th May 2008
- 2nd June 2008
William Chen, Nagoya, Japan
8th August 2007 Nadia Giliova, St James' Piccadilly, lunchtime recital
10th March 2007 Les eleves de Mme.Freret, Salle de L'auditorium de l'ecole nationale de musique et danse, Lisieux Pays d'Auge (in the presence of the composer)

Prelude, Berceuse, Nocturne, Toccatina,Rag

19th October 2006 Nadia Giliova, St. John's Smith Square, London (7.30)

Programme to include works by Howard Blake (some pieces from 'Lifecycle'), Kosenko, Schumann & Rachmaninov

4th October 2006 Jenni Fleming, Queensland Conservatorium,Griffith University, Brisbane,Australia, Kawai Concert Series,
30th September 2006 Nadia Giliova playing selected pieces from Lifecycle and Rachmaninov, Haywards Heath Music Society, St Wilfrid's Church 7.45
10th September 2006 Jenni Fleming, St. Mary's Anglican Church, Brisbane, Australia

First complete Australian concert performance, with photography by Morgan Flemming

22nd April 2006 Anca Nite, Greyfriars Church Edinburgh

Selected pieces from 'Lifecycle' preceding a performance of 'Benedictus'

15th June 2005 Howard Blake, Selangor Palace, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Asian premiere of 'Lifecycle'. By royal command of HRH The Sultan of Selangor

18th May 2005 Howard Blake, Recital Room, Ardingly College, Sussex
16th August 2002 Howard Blake, Aigues-Vives, Nimes, France

A recital at the house of the Baron & Baroness Botzelaer; Marc Andre Hamelin in the audience.

4th July 2002 You-Chiong Lin, Alexandre Gallery, The Skryabin Space, Hanover Square, London
2nd May 2002 Various students from the London School of Music,, St Stephen's Gloucester Road, London

An idea for a performance with each piece of the 24 played by a different player, conceived & organised by Alberto Portugheis

21st December 1996 Howard Blake, Gothenburg Opera House (Recital Room)
6th August 1996 Howard Blake, Schloss Rosenegg, Steyr, Austria

Reviews


HOWARD BLAKE
LIFECYCLE
Highbridge Music
HBM001

I think some people would believe me if I told them that Howard Blake retired in 1982 to live off the royalties generated from his hugely successful score to The Snowman. But I would be lying, for the truth is quite different. He has written hundreds and hundreds of pieces, and, according to his website, reached his opus 612 (ironically, a string quartet version of The Snowman) at the beginning of last year.
Lifecycleopus 489 is a sequence of 24 pieces dedicated to Vladimir Ashkenazy. Covering all the major and minor keys, they were composed over a period of 40 years, incorporate the Twelve Pieces for Piano that first appeared as opus 192, and were given their first performance by the composer himself in 1996. Although Lifecycle can be performed as a complete work, pianists will naturally want to pick out their individual favourites, so readers will be pleased that the book encompasses a wide range of difficulty.
One of the easier pieces is the prelude that opens the cycle. This beautiful piece is one of the alternative List C pieces on the ABRSM’s 2011-12 Grade 6 syllabus. A version of Walking in the Air (No 21) is also in the book and is written at about the same level. Most of the other pieces are harder; Chaconne and Toccatina, for example, are on the DipABRSM diploma syllabus, and a couple of pieces make further demands still! The book is attractively priced, and the aforementioned prelude is available separately from the same publishers (HBM002). (MM)

MM, Piano Magazine, 5/9/2011


Sheet music review: piano work from composer Howard Blake, Lifecycle

05 September 2011

HOWARD BLAKE
LIFECYCLE
Highbridge Music

I think some people would believe me if I told them that Howard Blake retired in 1982 to live off the royalties generated from his hugely successful score to The Snowman. But I would be lying, for the truth is quite different. He has written hundreds and hundreds of pieces, and, according to his website, reached his opus 612 (ironically, a string quartet version of The Snowman) at the beginning of last year.
Lifecycleopus 489 is a sequence of 24 pieces dedicated to Vladimir Ashkenazy. Covering all the major and minor keys, they were composed over a period of 40 years, incorporate the Twelve Pieces for Piano that first appeared as opus 192, and were given their first performance by the composer himself in 1996. Although Lifecycle can be performed as a complete work, pianists will naturally want to pick out their individual favourites, so readers will be pleased that the book encompasses a wide range of difficulty.
One of the easier pieces is the prelude that opens the cycle. This beautiful piece is one of the alternative List C pieces on the ABRSM’s 2011-12 Grade 6 syllabus. A version of Walking in the Air (No 21) is also in the book and is written at about the same level. Most of the other pieces are harder; Chaconne and Toccatina, for example, are on the DipABRSM diploma syllabus, and a couple of pieces make further demands still! The book is attractively priced, and the aforementioned prelude is available separately from the same publishers (HBM002). (MM)

5/9/2011


H Blake Lifecycle William Chen pf ABC Classics 0 ABC476 1184 (66' • DDD) A gifted composer of tunes reflects on life in his 21st-century 'Lyric Pieces' Howard Blake is best known for his 1982 score for the animated film The Snowman. 'Walking in the air' has become his Prelude in C sharp minor, his Land of Hope and Glory, quite overshadowing his 500-plus other works, one of which is this enchanting cycle. Its composition spans 40 years of Blake's creative life, 24 miniatures, one each in all the major and minor keys, arranged in a sequence of falling fifths beginning in B minor and ending in F sharp major. (Is it rueful acknowledgement that makes 'Walking in the air' the cycle's C sharp minor contribution?) Blake's titles and tonal language are unapologetically of the 19th century. Dissonant harmonies and jazz are employed infrequently. Blake, you see, writes tunes — an unfashionable gift (and, judging from the work of his peers, a rare one, too). No doubt these Lyric Pieces for the 21st century will be dismissed in some quarters as lightweight trifles. I think there is more to them, expertly and economically crafted as they are (Blake studied piano with Harold Craxton and composition with Howard Ferguson). In some cases, a secure finger technique is demanded (try Toccatina and Dance of the Hunters). Here, and in the mood of quiet reflection that predominates, William Chen proves an ideal champion. Graced by Robert Matthew-Walker's eloquent booklet-notes and a track-listing that includes the date, place and source of each work's composition, this first recording of Lifecycle shows that there is still much to be said for melody, traditional harmony and conservative values. Jeremy Nicholas

Jeremy Nicholas, Gramaphone, 2011


H Blake Lifecycle William Chen pf ABC Classics 0 ABC476 1184 (66' • DDD) A gifted composer of tunes reflects on life in his 21st-century 'Lyric Pieces' Howard Blake is best known for his 1982 score for the animated film The Snowman. 'Walking in the air' has become his Prelude in C sharp minor, his Land of Hope and Glory, quite overshadowing his 500-plus other works, one of which is this enchanting cycle. Its composition spans 40 years of Blake's creative life, 24 miniatures, one each in all the major and minor keys, arranged in a sequence of falling fifths beginning in B minor and ending in F sharp major. (Is it rueful acknowledgement that makes 'Walking in the air' the cycle's C sharp minor contribution?) Blake's titles and tonal language are unapologetically of the 19th century. Dissonant harmonies and jazz are employed infrequently. Blake, you see, writes tunes — an unfashionable gift (and, judging from the work of his peers, a rare one, too). No doubt these Lyric Pieces for the 21st century will be dismissed in some quarters as lightweight trifles. I think there is more to them, expertly and economically crafted as they are (Blake studied piano with Harold Craxton and composition with Howard Ferguson). In some cases, a secure finger technique is demanded (try Toccatina and Dance of the Hunters). Here, and in the mood of quiet reflection that predominates, William Chen proves an ideal champion. Graced by Robert Matthew-Walker's eloquent booklet-notes and a track-listing that includes the date, place and source of each work's composition, this first recording of Lifecycle shows that there is still much to be said for melody, traditional harmony and conservative values. Jeremy Nicholas

Jeremy Nicholas, Gramaphone, 2011


I was having a read of the DipABRSM syllabus for piano, and was quite sad to find out that my favourite pieces, Poulenc's novelettes no. 1 and 2 & Bach's Prelude and Fugue in D minor (no. 6 from book 1) aren't on the list. I might be using the Bach as an own-choice piece though. 

So right now I have to change my 20th century pieces... I had a look at the syllabus for some ideas, but not many of them were too inspiring, like the Constellations by Diana Burrell or Moonscape by Edwin Roxburgh from the Spectrum series. The Howard Blake pieces stood out though... I had a listen to someone play them on youtube, and thought the toccatina was fantastic stuff. 

Piano diploma student, 23/8/2008


WILLIAM CHEN Howard Blake piano music **** William Chen (ABC Classics).
'...music by the composer of We're Walking In The Air, from The Snowman. In fact, the
"composer's cut", as you might call it, of Walking In The Air is
here, in C sharp minor, and there's a brilliant little drawing of
the Snowman himself, by Dianne Jackson, the original illustrator,
in the liner notes. Lifecycle is a set of pieces, one in each
of the major and minor keys, which were written at different
times and in different contexts but which Blake feels add up to a
satisfying whole. And they do. He is a man out of his time, a
composer closer to Chopin and Schumann than to modernism. But he
has Royal Academy of Music training behind him and he understands
the sonorities of the piano wonderfully. Most of these pieces are
about three minutes long: one extends to five; one is only 51
seconds. There is a much variety in them, though - songs, dances,
character pieces, jeux d'esprit - and one (Chaconne in D minor)
surprises with its vehemence, while others (Study, in C minor, and
Oberon, in F sharp major, which is almost a Revolutionary Study
in itself) make considerable demands on the performer. But the
subtlety of Blake's music often lies in its careful use of
familiar patterns - ordinariness, if you like - so that eventually
the nuances begin to speak with an eloquence you would miss if
you just thought it was old-fashioned ideas warmed up again.
William Chen plays them with immaculate technique and classical
purity.

Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News, 1/10/2004


The 24 miniatures that constitute Lifecycle were composed over a period of 40 years, and are set in every one of the major and minor keys available on the piano. Anyone who had previously assumed that Walking in the Air was something of a one-hit wonder for Blake will surely be taken aback by his inexhaustible flow of melodic enchantment. Each time you think you've reached the best of the set, he produces yet another winningly memorable tune. A rare delight.

Classic FM Magazine, 10/2004


... his (Blake) piano writing is exceptional amongst modern-day composers

Robert Matthew-Walker, 2003

Related Works


'Twelve Pieces For Piano' op.192 (October 1975)
A collection of pieces later to become part 1 of 'Lifecycle'
'EIGHT CHARACTER PIECES' op.338 (1975) (Audio Sample Available)
Piano pieces later included in 'Lifecycle'

Related Autobiography Chapters


A flat in Olympia and 'Ivan the Terrible' (1963)
'The Song of St. Francis' ,'Hokusai' and 'The Station' (1975)
Simon Rattle's 'largest orchestra in the world' and a house in Sweden (1996)
William Chen records 'Lifecycle' in Sidney and 'Granpa' visits Hong-Kong (2003)
Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin record the woodwind concertos (2012)
Vladimir Ashkenazy records my piano music for Decca (2013)

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