Monday, January 07, 2019

Algernon Ashton

John David and I are playing a concert later this month that will include Algernon Ashton's Viola Sonata.

Algernon Bennett Langton Ashton was born in Durham, England in 1859, and moved to Leipzig with his family at the age of four. At the suggestion of Ignaz Moscheles, Ashton entered the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied with Carl Reinecke, Ernst Richter, Salomon Jadassohn, Benjamin Papperitz, and Theodor Coccius. He graduated in 1879, and entered the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt where he studied with Joachim Raff. Ashton settled in London, and taught piano at the Royal College of Music from 1885 until 1910. He died in 1937.

In addition to being a prolific composer, Ashton kept a 58-volume daily diary. He was famous for finding graves of distinguished people and writing letters to the Musical Times to comment on the condition of the gravestones. These letters were published in two volumes by Chapman & Hall (Truth Wit and Wisdom, and More Truth Wit and Wisdom), but his diaries were lost.
Ashton's 160 published works include four cello sonatas, three violin sonatas, two piano quintets, eight piano sonatas, works for choir, songs, salon pieces, and fantasie pieces. Many of his unpublished works, including 24 piano sonatas, one in each key of the chromatic scale, 24 string quartets, and four symphonies are believed to have been destroyed when German bombs hit his family home during the Blitz.

Here's a link to his Fourth Piano Sonata, Opus 164 and a link to one of his Phantasiestucke, Opus 12.

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