Stanley Bate

Stanley Bate (12 December 1911 – 19 October 1959) was an English composer and pianist.[1]


Bate was born in Milehouse, Devonshire, a suburb of Plymouth, and received his first musical education from local teachers.[2] He took to the piano early and by the age of 12 had secured a post as organist at Herbert Street Methodist Church in Devonport.[3] His first opera, The Forest Enchanted, was completed in 1928 when he was 17, and produced locally with Bate conducting.[4] Winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, he studied under Ralph Vaughan Williams, R.O. Morris, Gordon Jacob, and Arthur Benjamin. Compositions from this time include the String Quartet No 1 (1936) and the Symphony No 1 in Eb, which was first performed at the College in 1936.[2] He went on to study abroad, for two years, first in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and then in Berlin with Paul Hindemith.

On his return to the UK in 1937 Bate was commissioned to compose the Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra, performed at the Eastbourne Music Festival in February 1938 with Frederic Lamond as the soloist, conducted by Kneale Kelly.[5] Bate also began writing incidental music for theatre director Michel Saint-Denis (including productions of Twelfth Night and The Cherry Orchard) and produced two ballet scores - Perseus for Les Trois Arts[6] and Cap Over Mill, for Ballet Rambert.[7]

While at the College Bate met Australian-born fellow student and composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Although Bate was openly homosexual[8] they married in 1938 and remained together until a divorce in 1949. She was very supportive of his career, at some cost to her own.[9] There were also reports of domestic violence.[10] After the divorce Bate married the Brazilian diplomat Margarida Guedes Nogueira.[2]

At the outbreak of war Bate embarked on British Council funded tours of the US, Australia and Brazil, promoting British culture. With Glanville-Hicks he moved to America in 1941 and saw great successes there, including a performance in February 1942 at Carnegie Hall of his Second Piano Concerto by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Thomas Beecham with the composer as soloist.[4] A grant by the Guggenheim Foundation in April 1942 helped with funding.[11] Other successful US premieres included the Sinfonietta No 1 in 1942 (ISCM, Berkeley California), the String Quartet No 2, given by the Lener Quartet in 1943, and the Viola Concerto in 1946, performed by Emanuel Vardi with the NBC Symphony Orchestra.[2]

Returning to the UK in 1949 (via Brusssels and Paris), Bate found it hard to replicate his international successes at home. However, the Violin Concerto No 3 (1947–50) received a successful performance at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra and Antonio Brosa soloist in 1953. The premiere of the Symphony No 3 at the Cheltenham Festival in 1954 - some fourteen years after its completion[12] - was unanimously well received by critics. The Musical Times called it "exhilarating, hard-hitting music".[13] The BBC has been criticised for its lack of support for his music, but it did stage the world premiere of his Piano Concerto No 3 at the Proms on 30 August 1957 with the composer as soloist and Malcolm Sargent conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.[14] And the first broadcast of the Symphony No 4 was given on 3 April 1958 by the BBC Northern Orchestra, conducted by Lawrence Leonard.[15]

Short of money and depressed by his lack of recognition, Bate died in 1959 aged 47, having suffered a breakdown a few months before. The coroner's verdict was death due to complications of alcohol, though other reports suggested a drug overdose.[2]


The music of Stanley Bate quickly fell into obscurity following his death. The Third Symphony (1940) was long regarded as his best work in his home country, although critics were quick to point out its influences. "The second subject of the first movement is almost pure Vaughan Williams, the slow movement almost pure Hindemith, and Boulanger's influence may be detected in the Stravinskian rhythms of the last movement", wrote the Manchester Guardian critic. The opening of Walton's landmark Symphony No 1, which preceded it by five years, can also be heard in the opening figures of the finale.[12] Mark Lehman described the work as "very much a 'war symphony' with kinships to the contemporaneous symphonies of Arthur Benjamin, Richard Arnell and Bernard Herrmann".[16] There was a further performance of the Third Symphony at Cheltenham in 1965, but it took until 2006 for a new performance to be broadcast,[17] followed by a commercial recording in 2010.[18]

That same year a recording of the Viola Concerto (1944-6) by Roger Chase and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Stephen Bell helped spark a modern revival of interest.[19] This intensively lyrical work also immediately brings to mind the music of Vaughan Williams, to whom it is dedicated.[20] Recordings of the Symphony No 4 (1954–55)[21] followed in 2011, and the Third Piano Concerto (1938) and Sinfonietta No 1 (1940) in 2012.[22] A recording of the Cello Concerto (1954) was issued by Lyrita in 2015.[23]


  • The Forest Enchanted, 1928
  • All for the Queen, 1929–30


  • Eros, 1935
  • Goyescas, 1937
  • Juanita (mime-ballet), 1938
  • Cap over Mill, op.27, 1939
  • Perseus, op.26, 1939 (published Schott, 1941)
  • Dance Variations, op.49, 1944–6
  • Highland Fling, 1946
  • Troilus and Cressida, op.60, 1948

Incidental music

Film music

  • The Fifth Year, 1944
  • Jean Helion, 1946
  • The Pleasure Garden, 1952–3
  • Light through the Ages, 1953


  • Symphony No.1 in Eb (fp 1936)
  • Symphony No.2, op.20, 1937–9
  • Sinfonietta No.1, op.22, 1938
  • Symphony No.3, op.29, 1940
  • Sinfonietta No.2, op.39, 1944
  • Pastorale, op.48a, c. 1946
  • Concerto Grosso, 1952
  • Symphony No.4, 1954–5
  • Associated-Rediffusion March, c.1957[24]


  • Piano Concertante, op.24, 1936–8 (published Schott, 1941)
  • Concertino, op.21, 1937
  • Piano Concerto No.2, op.28, 1940
  • Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, op.43
  • Violin Concerto. No.2, op.42, 1943
  • Haneen, op.50, 1944 (aka Fantasy on an Arabian Theme for flute, gong and strings)
  • Viola Concerto, op.46, 1944–6
  • Violin Concerto No.3, op.58, 1947–50
  • Piano Concerto No.3, op.66, 1951–2
  • Harpsichord Concerto, 1952–5
  • Cello Concerto, 1953
  • Piano Concerto No.4, c. 1955
  • Piano Concerto No.5, 1958

Chamber music

  • String Quartet No.1, 1936
  • Flute Sonata, op.11, 1937 (published Oiseau-Lyre, 1938)
  • Five Pieces, for string quartet, op.23, c. 1937
  • Sonatina for recorder, op.12, 1938
  • String Quartet No.2, op.41, 1942
  • Violin Sonata No.1, op.47, 1946
  • Oboe Sonata, op.52, 1946
  • Fantasy for cello, op.56, 1946–7
  • Recitative for Cello, op.52a, 1946–7
  • Pastorale, op.57, c. 1947
  • Violin Sonata No.2, 1950


  • Six Pieces for an Infant Prodigy, op.13, c. 1938
  • Two Sonatinas, op.19, 1939–41
  • Romance and Toccata, op.25, 1941[25]
  • Sonatinas Nos.3–9, opp.30–6, 1942–3
  • Overture to a Russian War Relief Concert, op.37, c. 1943
  • Three Pieces for two pianos op.38, 1943
  • Sonata No.1, op.45, 1943
  • Piano Suite No.1, op.44, 1943[26]
  • Three Mazurkas, op.38a, 1944
  • Sonata No.2, op.59, 1947
  • Sonata No.3, op.62, 1949
  • 17 Preludes, op.64, 1949
  • Prelude, Rondo and Toccata, 1953



  1. ^ Barlow, Michael (2001). "Bate, Stanley". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.02296. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "STANLEY BATE - Forgotten International Composer. by Michael Barlow and Robert Barnett". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  3. ^ Devonport Morice Town Primitive Methodist Chapel, Herbert Street. The church was destroyed in the Second World War
  4. ^ a b Obituary, Musical Times, December 1959, p 680-1
  5. ^ Radio Times, Issue 749, 8 February 1938, p. 45,
  6. ^ "Perseus". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Cap Over Mill". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  8. ^ Commire, Anne; Klezmer, Deborah (1999). Women in world history: a biographical encyclopedia. Vol. 6. Yorkin Publications. p. 276.
  9. ^ Robinson, Suzanne (16 June 2019). Peggy Glanville-Hicks: Composer and Critic. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252051401. Retrieved 21 July 2020 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Meacham, Steve (2 December 2011). "Life: on that score composer was an original". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  11. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Stanley Bate". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  12. ^ a b 'First performance after 14 years: Bate's Third Symphony', Manchester Guardian, 16 July 1954, p 5
  13. ^ Musical Times No 1339, September 1954, p 491
  14. ^ "Prom 36". BBC Music Events. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  15. ^ Radio Times Issue 1794, 30 March 1958, p 47,
  16. ^ American Record Guide, May/June 2010, p 61
  17. ^ "Afternoon Performance". BBC Genome. 14 March 2006. p. 130. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  18. ^ Royal Scottish Orchestra, conducted by Martin Yates, Dutton 7239 (2010)
  19. ^ Dutton Vocalion CDLX 7216,
  20. ^ "Bate, Vaughan Williams, Bell Roger Chase (violia) CDLX7216 [MC]: Classical Music Reviews - January 2010 MusicWeb-International". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  21. ^ Dutton Vocalion CDLX 7255,
  22. ^ Stanley Bate & Franz Reizenstein: Piano Concertos, Dutton Vocalion CDLX 7282,
  23. ^ Cello Concerto, reviewed by MusicWeb International
  24. ^ "Rising star - Start-ups - Transdiffusion Broadcasting System". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Romance performed by Jeffrey Wagner". YouTube. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Piano Suite No.1, first movement performed by Duncan Appleby". YouTube. Retrieved 21 July 2020.

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