Monday, 31 December 2012

Finzi Nocturne "New Year's Music"


On New Year's Eve, 1925, Gerald Finzi went to a party in a cottage on Chosen Hill, above the hamlet of Churchdown in Gloucestershire. The cottage still stands, half-hidden in a hollow. At midnight, Finzi and his friends came outside, into sharp frost, the night sky filled with stars, and "heard bells ringing across Gloucestershire from beside the Severn to the hill villages of the Cotswolds". Stephen Banfield, Finzi's biographer, calls this the "hilltop epiphany", for it released in Finzi a surge of original music. This was the inspiration for Nocturne op 7, whose sub-title is in fact New Year's Music, and later for In Terra Pax, filled with bells and joy. Finzi needed an impetus to find himself and something happened that night under the stars. "I love New Year's Eve," he told a friend later, "Though it's the saddest time of the year..... a time of silence and quiet". And soon after asked himself "must knowledge come to me, iit f comes at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no longer by the familiar process (of reading other's work)?" ie Finzi was learning to trust his own artistic instincts.

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