William Yeates Hurlstone (1876-1906)
Quintet in G minor

I - Allegro moderato - Animato; II - Andante cantabile; III - Allegro scherzando

Hurlstone’s short career as a pianist and composer fell within the second ‘Renaissance’ of English music, led by composers such as Elgar, Delius, Parry, Stanford and Sullivan. His family background was not a musical one, but he started composing at a young age and won a scholarship to the Royal College of music, where Charles Stanford was professor from 1883 to 1924. His career as a pianist was impeded by chronic bronchial asthma which ultimately led to his death at the age of thirty. Nevertheless, he performed his own piano concerto at St James’ Hall in 1896 and became accompanist to the Bach Choir, as well as playing the clarinet, violin and cello.

Hurlstone’s chamber music was held in high regard and works include the Phantasy string quartet, a cello sonata, the popular Four Characteristic Pieces for clarinet and piano, the bassoon sonata, and the extensive Piano Quartet which was played at the composer’s funeral. The works show evidence both of great optimism but also of tragedy – Hurlstone’s life was touched by the early death of his father from smallpox.


© 2005 The Arethusa Ensemble