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Composers in common

27 February, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

THE inimitable Nash Ensemble is celebrating the tuneful chamber music of Max Bruch and Vaughan Williams during its four-week residency at LSO St Lukes, starting on Thursday.

There’s a little-known connection between the two composers. In 1897 the young Englishman Ralph Vaughan Williams spent an enjoyable few months in Berlin studying with the renowned German composer Max Bruch.

“Bruch encouraged me,” Vaughan Williams recalled, “and I had never had much encouragement before.”

Bruch’s official testimonial for Vaughan Williams calls him “a very good musician and a talented composer”; Vaughan Williams also remembered Bruch appreciating his “ve-ry o-riginaal ideeas” – though not his harmonies, which were “rather too originell”.

Hearing their music together performed by the Nash Ensemble may well provide a delightful surprise in the discovery of how much they had in common.

Thursday’s opening concert of the Nash Ensemble’s residency at LSO includes Bruch’s String Quintet in E-flat major and Vaughan Williams’ Piano Quintet in C minor.

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