may be the first English ballet score, "L'Ecole en Crinoline",
by Eugene Goossens, will receive its first performance at St.Johns,
Smith Square on Monday, 27th October, in a concert entitled Eugene
Goossens and his circle, given by the Australian pianist, Antony Gray.
Goossens was one of the most outstanding talents in the early years
of this century, making his mark both as a conductor and composer
before he had left the Royal College of Music in 1915. Within a few
years he had become one of Diaghalevs favourite conductors for his
"Ballets Russe", and it must have been this experience which
led Goossens to write his own ballet score in 1921-22.
The completed piano score was played to Diaghalev who enthused about
the music, but felt that the subject was not suitable for the direction
his company was taking at the time. It was not until four years later
when Lamberts "Romeo and Juliet" was produced by Diaghalev
that an original ballet score by a British composer was professionally
The subsequent history of the score is somewhat mysterious. The original
piano score has survived in The Goossens Archive, along with a copyists
score, complete up to about two thirds of the way through, and an
orchestral score complete up to exactly the same point.
One theory is that Goossens, who was notoriously overstretched, often
conducting opera at Covent Garden and the Ballet Russe at the Alhambra
Theatre on successive nights, took the copyists unfinished score to
orchestrate from, but never had an opportunity to complete the task.
Whether the copyist ever completed the second piano score is also
not known. There is also no evidence as to when Goossens orchestrated
part of the score. Towards the end of his life he got the piano score
out again and made a few indications of what might have become a suite
from the ballet, but again did not have the time to realise the project.
"L'Ecole en Crinoline" was written at the height of Goossens
compositional powers and, at thirty five minutes, is a substantial
one act ballet containing music of immense charm, wit and feeling.
The story - a ballet school, a headmistress, a vicar and Amelia, the
student heroine - is not profound, and it is easy to see why Diaghalev
rejected it, but it is no weaker than many ballet subjects being performed
today, and the beauty of the music, as well as its historical significance
surely merit the work being taken up.
The recital at St.Johns, given by the pianist Antony Gray and the
narrator Georgina Sowerby, will include further music by Goossens,
as well as music by some of his friends, colleagues and admirers -
Ravel, de Falla, Grainger, Williamson, Carmichael and Scott.