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Haydn Wood

March 25, 1882 - March 11, 1959
born in Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, composed during the Modern period
Haydn Wood is best remembered for his substantial body of orchestral works in the light classical vein. He produced 15 suites, 9 rhapsodies, 8 overtures, and numerous other compositions in the orchestral genre, including concertos for piano and violin. Wood also wrote solo works for violin, piano, and organ. Though he did compose a symphony (ca. 1908), he seems to have abandoned it, having never seriously pursued publication. Wood also composed 180 songs, the most popular of which are probably Roses of Picardy (1916), written for his wife, soprano Dorothy Court, and A Brown Bird Singing (1922). He also produced several scores for musical plays or musicals, including Tina (1915), probably his greatest success in the genre. Wood, then, can clearly be seen as a sort of early example of a crossover artist, not unlike Leonard Bernstein. Wood arguably reached Bernstein's level of fame in England during his lifetime, both from his compositions and from numerous concert appearances and broadcasts. Today, Wood is regarded as a major figure in the realm of British light music, and recordings of his works are widely available.

Haydn Wood was born in Slaithwaite, England, on March 25, 1882. He grew up in Douglas, Isle of Man, where his older brother taught him on the violin. From age 15 Wood studied violin, piano, and composition at the Royal College of Music in London.

After graduation he toured Great Britain as part of a retinue of musicians accompanying Canadian soprano Emma Albani. While a student at the RCM, Wood met his future wife Dorothy Court, whom he married in 1909. From 1913-1926 he toured Britain with her and a pianist playing concert fare that mixed songs (mostly his) and violin/piano repertory. Typically, the three, Wood on violin, would give two concerts per day, including Saturdays.

Despite this heavy schedule Wood was busy as a composer during this period, scoring modest successes with the aforementioned Tina, as well as for Cash on Delivery (1917). Wood concertized as a violinist less frequently after 1926, though he regularly conducted various orchestras for BBC broadcasts, often in concerts featuring works commissioned by the BBC. Wood remained quite active in composition during the war and in the postwar era. Among his better known late works are the orchestral rhapsody Mylecharane (1946) and Serenade to Youth (1955), also for orchestra. Wood died in London on March 11, 1959. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
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