WELCOME TO THE WEBSITE OF THE
CHARLES JESSOLD MUSIC TRUST
STOP PRESS: 2013 will see the 125th anniversary of the birth of the composer, Charles Jessold. We are inviting papers on his music (and its reception) to be presented at a Jessold Symposium to take place at Hatton Manor in the summer of that year. Please be in touch with the webmaster.
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The Birthplace of Charles Jessold, 43 St Eustace Rd, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. (No longer standing.)
A BRIEF BIOLOGICAL SKETCH
Charles Jessold was born on 12th February, 1888, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He died on 23rd June 1923, the day before the premiere of his first opera.
His mother was the President of The Four Towns Music Festival, at which Jessold plied an early trade as accompanist. Here he also presented his own compositions, which brought him to the attention of Marius Kemp at St Christophers, Cambridge, where he studied unsuccessfully. His only other known compositional training was with Otto Reichmann, who opened Jessold's ears to current continental trends, in Frankfurt before the First World War. Much of what is known of Jessold's early life is given with unprejudiced clarity in Wesley Stace's recently published "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer."
After some initial early successes, including the youthful Soda Syphon Symphony and the magnificent Passiontide Oratorio (the first flowering of his genius), and with considerable critical support to call on, Jessold found his greatest fame, ironically, during his incarceration at the Badenstein Internment Camp, whence his songs were smuggled back to Great Britain where they were received as musical news from the front. His newspaper columns from the unique perspective of Badenstein also met with great acclaim.
His star burned brightly on the musical scene after his return to England, and further success seemed assured. Yet, despite his marriage to the singer Victoria London, and the birth of their only child Tristan, the war had taken something out of him. Depression took hold, and Jessold became increasingly unreliable. Despite this, The English Opera Company commissioned an opera, Little Musgrave. Due to the tragic events of 23rd June, however, this premiere did not take place.
His work was not then heard for many years until 1953, when Opera London gave Little Musgrave the first night it had never received. The death of the critic Leslie Shepherd brought to light certain papers that prompted a thorough reappraisal of Jessold's work. Due to British copyright law, these papers could not be brought before the public eye until 50 years after the death of their author.
The more sensational aspects of the composers's life have been given ample publicity recently in Wesley Stace's "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer" (Picador, 2011) as they were so many years before in Daniel Banter's rightly discredited "The Gesualdo Murders" (1927). We recommend Neville Sellers' forthcoming "Charles Jessold, Composer" for the least prejudiced account of Jessold's life.
A contemporary sketch of Charles Jessold by artist Ed Kluz.