Sir Arthur Somervell on Music Education

October 2003
1 black and white illustrations
160 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Classic Texts in Music Education
ISBN: 9781843830191
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

Sir Arthur Somervell on Music Education

His Writings, Speeches and Letters

Elizabeth Jane Howard, Bernarr Rainbow

Edited by Gordon Cox

The composer Arthur Somervell was also an Inspector of Schools with special responsibility for the teaching of music. His collected writings set forth his philosophy of music education and cast light on musical life between the 1890s and his death in 1937.
Sir Arthur Somervell (1863-1937), composer and educationist, influenced the musical and educational life of England over four decades. Remembered today principally as an accomplished composer of songs and choral works, he also worked for twenty-eight years as one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools (HMI), with special responsibility for the teaching of music.
Towards the end of his life Somervell gathered together a number of his articles, in which he expounds a passionate philosophy of music education, makes candid remarks about musical life and musical education in England, and provides insights into the sometimes bitter debate with Cecil Sharp about folk song. These collected writings have now been prepared for publication by Gordon Cox, together with some unpublished speeches and letters, enabling musicologists and music educators to re-evaluate the significance of Somervell's contribution to the musical and educational life of his time.
GORDON COX is senior lecturer in education at the University of Reading.


The educational dilemma that presented itself to Arthur Somervell at the start of the last century is evident again in Britain today. Thus, in addition to being a work of significant scholarship, Gordon Cox's book makes a valuable contribution both to our current thinking about the place of music in the school curriculum, and to the wider and ever more pressing debate about the purpose and nature of schooling. - John Paynter, MUSIC & LETTERS
Compelling reading for anyone interested in the history of English music education....[Through this book] we now have access to a significant body of material by Somervell. This is very welcome. MUSIC EDUCATION

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