Hamilton Harty

October 2013
21 black and white, 21 line illustrations
390 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
ISBN: 9781843838586
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS008000, MUS006000

Hamilton Harty

Musical Polymath

Jeremy Dibble

An in-depth study of the life of Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941), pianist, composer and conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, who arguably made Manchester the most important focus for music in Britain in his day.
Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941) is best known as the conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, who arguably made Manchester the most important focus for music in Britain in his day. This book chronicles and analyses Harty's illustrious career, from his establishment as London's premiere accompanist in 1901 to his years as a conductor between 1910 and 1933, first with the LSO and then with the Hallé, to his American tours of the 1930s. Tragically, Harty died from cancer in 1941 at the age of only 61.
This book also looks at Harty's life as a composer of orchestral and chamber works and songs, notably before the First World War. Although Harty's music cleaved strongly to a late nineteenth-century musical language, he was profoundly influenced during his days in Ulster and Dublin by the Irish literary revival. A great exponent of Mozart and especially Berlioz, Harty was also a keen exponent of British music and an active supporter of American composers such as Gershwin.
Harty's role in the exposition of standard and new repertoire and his relationship with contemporary composers and performers are also examined, against the perspective of other important major British conductors such as Sir Thomas Beecham, Malcolm Sargent and Sir Henry Wood. Additionally, the book analyses the debates Harty provoked on the subjects of women orchestral players, jazz, modernism, and the music of Berlioz.

JEREMY DIBBLE is Professor of Music at Durham University and author of John Stainer: A Life in Music(The Boydell Press, 2007) and monographs on C. Hubert H. Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford and Michele Esposito.

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Table of Contents

Hillsborough, Belfast and Dublin - A Musical Apprenticeship - 1879-1901
London (1) 1901-1909: A Pre-eminent 'Collaborator' and Aspiring Composer
London (2) 1909-1914: Composer and Conductor
The War Years and After - 1914-1920
The Hallé Years - 1920-1927
Apogee: From Hallé to the LSO - 1927-33
America and Australia: An Unforeseen Romance - 1933-1936
The Last Years: The Children of Lir - A Creative Codicil - 1933-41
Appendix One: List of Works
Appendix Two: List of Recordings


Sheds a good deal of light on the life, varied career, and works of an important but neglected figure. Dibble's writing is clear, and he brings a great deal of knowledge and passion to bear on his subject. His treatment of the multifaceted Harty has something to offer those interested in the history of recording, of British orchestras, of 20th century British composers, and, of course, in Harty himself. ARSC JOURNAL

For experienced scholars, it is a fascinating refresher. . . . Dibble's writing . . . whet[s] the appetite for further discovery. A biography that makes the reader want to discover more is surely a successful one. NABSMA Reviews

Including an excellent bibliography, discography, and index, this is a major study of Harty. Summing Up: Recommended. CHOICE

This is a valuable work of scholarship, meticulously researched from a wide range of sources, and an engaging read. GRAMOPHONE

This landmark biography reveals there is a great deal more to him. . . . Engaging and fluent style . . . fascinating. I hope this book will stimulate both performances and recordings . . . Dibble provides an indispensable primer for all future research. . . . An essential volume for anyone interested in the history of British music. CLASSICAL MUSIC

This impressive biographical study of Hamilton Harty and his achievement is a timely re-discovery of one of the most important and charismatic figures in British music. [T]he first major biography of this composer/conductor to be published. . . . [I]ndispensable reading for anyone who is interested in his compositions, the influence that Harty had on orchestral playing and administration. . . . Dibble presents strong and coherent arguments to assure Harty his place in the Valhalla of British conductors such as Thomas Beecham, Henry Wood and Malcolm Sargent. MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL,

[Jeremy Dibble's Hamilton Harty reveals] great detail and in a manner that always maintains the reader's interest, making it imperative to turn the page to find out what happens next. The sheer number of primary sources that he has uncovered and explored is impressive . . . considerable achievement . . . recommending it wholeheartedly . . . beautifully produced book and amply illustrated with photographs and music examples. ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL

Here, at last, is a full appreciation of [this] remarkable musician. Most engaging. . . . Deeply moving. [Five Stars] BBC MUSIC, February 2014

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