Denis ApIvor

This page contains various items of interest relating to Mark’s research into the composer Denis ApIvor (1916-2004), the subject of his Leeds University doctorate (2002). The purpose is to make resources available (strictly in a non-commercial context) that otherwise would be completely inaccessible to interested parties. In 2014-15 Mark was also involved in curating the ApIvor archive at the University of Leeds Special Collections (more information here).

Concertino for Guitar and Orchestra (1954)

The sound recording below is from the BBC Broadcast of Denis ApIvor’s Concertino for Guitar and Orchestra (7 February 1958). The excerpt is made available as a listening accompaniment to Mark’s various articles on ApIvor’s guitar music (see here for information).

Saeta (1972) for solo guitar

Below is a Youtube clip of an excellent performance of Denis ApIvor’s Saeta by the British guitarist, Simon James. Simon is currently undertaking a project to record all of the composer’s solo guitar works – see here. A review of Saeta by John Scammon was published in the GFA’s Soundboard in May 1976:

Saeta is a short work of only three pages, but seems much longer because of its very slow movement and meditative character. It is constructed in a prelude-like manner, deriving its interest from an extremely complicated rhythmic structure. Harmonic structure is loosely defined, moving from one area to another without ever settling on what one might call a tonal center. Harmonic analysis is very difficult, as a good deal of the movement is of a single line nature, relying only on ringing bass notes or occasional chords to outline definite harmonies. Despite the wandering effect, Denis ApIvor has been very precise in his use of performance indications. All special effects, tempo changes, dynamic variations and rhythmic nuances are clearly shown. The overall result is a piece which sounds improvisatory. The carefully calculated rhythms often produce the effect of a highly ornamented single line melody reminiscent of vocal monodic style.

Ten Pieces for Solo Guitar, from An Introduction to Serial Composition for Guitarists (1982)

A tasteful performance by Rob MacKillop of the third piece from this set of ten pieces written to illustrate ApIvor’s compositional theories. For more information about Rob’s performance approach, see here

The Hollow Men (1939)

The sound recording below is from the BBC Broadcast of Denis ApIvor’s The Hollow Men (21 February 1950), featuring the BBC Male Voice Chorus with Redvers Llewellyn (baritone) and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Constant Lambert. The excerpt is made available as a listening accompaniment to the publication in the British Music Society Journal of Mark’s article ‘”Music of the Cactus Land”: A consideration of Musical Style and Text Setting in Denis ApIvor’s The Hollow Men.’

NB. headphone listening is recommended as this is an old and noisy recording. Also, as this is a large file, depending on your internet speed there may be a few seconds buffering time before it plays. You can always try refreshing your browser if necessary, or go directly to the Soundcloud link by clicking on ‘Music of the Cactus Land’.