1 Dec 2017

ANTHONY WATSON: Three Bagatelles (introduction)

From Resound, 9:02 pm on 1 December 2017

Introduced by Kenneth Young.

"I’ve always thought that the early death of Anthony Watson in 1973 at the age of 39, is one of the most tragic events in New Zealand music’s history. He’s represented by a mere eight works, and that includes the minute and half long sketch for violin and viola cryptically entitled This Is Not Bartok/Its Not Me Either.

"Then again, maybe it’s not cryptic at all. In the past he’s certainly been accused of owing too much to the Hungarian master. I would counter that accusation with the view that one would be hard-pressed to find any composer in their 20’s and 30’s not in the process of assimilating a variety of influences. It was no different with Anthony Watson.

"Born in the Southland town of Winton, Watson was a violist and, from 1958 to 1969 a member of the NZSO. In 1970 he left to return to Dunedin, where he’d studied at Otago University. He’d been appointed as the first Mozart Fellow at the University and it was during that two-year period that he wrote his Three Bagatelles for Bassoon and String Trio.

"He dedicated it to the artist, and sometime composer, Michael Smither who was the Frances Hodgkins Fellow in Dunedin at the time Watson returned there. The two became close friends.

"This RNZ recording from 1975 features mutual NZSO colleagues of Watson’s and mine, whom the composer may well have had in mind when he wrote the Bagatelles. They were all musicians one could rely on to contribute to performances of contemporary music."

Listen to Three Bagatelles by Anthony Watson.

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