A New Book

jessold book

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www.wesleystace.com

- author's website (includes examples of the music of Charles Jessold). Note: the views expressed at www.wesleystace.com are not necessarily those of either the Charles Jessold Music Trust or the Charles Jessold Society (UK).


In response to the public interest that has greeted the publication of Wesley Stace's speculative work of fiction concerning the life and death of Charles Jessold, we are delighted to announce that Neville Sellers will write the first proper biography of the composer, commissioned by Pitman & Rice, for publication in the summer of 2013. At this time of renewed interest in the life and music of Charles Jessold, it is entirely appropriate that an authorised biography will finally see the light of day. If anyone has any personal memories, or memorabilia, of the composer that they would like to share, please be in touch with the webmaster. A monograph, featuring a critical bibliography of Jessold's oeuvre, is due out shortly:

bio


A MONTH OF JESSOLD!!

A FESTIVAL OF THE MUSIC OF CHARLES JESSOLD - Thursdays in April in Tunbridge Wells, at The Assembly Rooms.

THURSDAY 7 APRIL
6.00pm THE SODA SYPHON SYMPHONY & FUGITIVE PIECES Guildhall Symphony & The Jessold Consort
7.30pm SHANDYISMS & OTHER EARLY WORKS Miriam Manguel (piano), Brian Loveall (tenor) & Georgina Foss (soprano)

THURSDAY 14 APRIL
6.00pm CHARLES JESSOLD AND THE FOLK-SONG The Jessold Consort with soloists Molly Grainger and Stephen Gay
7.30pm SONGS OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM THE ROTHER VALLEY & SEANCE The Jessold Consort, cond. David Wednesday, with Stephen Gay, Monica Bayles & Special Guest, Abigail Mantrillo

THURSDAY 21 APRIL
1.30pm SHANDYISMS & OTHER EARLY WORKS The Jessold Consort& friends
2.30pm THE PASSIONTIDE ORATORIO Choral workshop for audience and choirs
4.45pm THE MYSTERIOUS JOSHUA CRADLELESS The Jessold Consort, cond. David Wednesday, with Stephen Gay, Monica Bayles & Special Guest, Abigail Mantrillo

THURSDAY 28 APRIL
2.00pm SEMINAR at the Tunbridge Wells Library, with an address on the composer by his son Tristan London.

FOR TICKETS, APPLY DIRECTLY to
THE ASSEMBLY ROOMS


RELATED LINKS:

The Charles Jessold Society

The Works of Charles Jessold, as catalogued by Leslie Shepherd
Editor's note: this will soon be superseded by Neville Sellers' own catalogue

Leslie Shepherd

Sir Arnold Bax

Percy Grainger

George Butterworth


The Original Novello score for Charles Jessold's Little Musgrave:

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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.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR DETAILS!


home of jessold

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.

jessold portrait

A contemporary sketch of Charles Jessold by artist Ed Kluz.


AVAILABILITY OF SCORES AND PARTS

Many readers of this site have asked about the availability of a particular score for a particular combination of instruments for a particular one of Jessold's compositions or arrangements. We have always endeavored to answer your questions about all aspects of Jessold's life and career as fully as possible, and continue to welcome your correspondence. While we are delighted by the interest shown in bringing Jessold's music to life in performance, to avoid duplication of resources, we are now referring all requests for information about scores and parts to our sister organization, the Charles Jessold Society (U.K.).


 

A CONTEMPORARY REPORT OF THE DEATHS OF CHARLES JESSOLD, VICTORIA LONDON AND EDWARD MANVILLE

The World, June 24th, 1923:

KENSINGTON TRIPLE TRAGEDY

COMPOSER KILLS HIS WIFE, ANOTHER, COMMITS SUICIDE

OPERA WILL NOT OPEN

A double murder followed by the suicide of the perpetrator has taken place in a cul-de-sac off Kensington High Street. Jealousy is the principal motive for the crime.

The police were summoned at two o’clock yesterday morning, when witnesses at Cadogan Mansions in Drapery Street were startled by the report of a revolver. Constable Williams, forcing the door open, found the body of the composer Charles Jessold, aged 35 years, holding a bloodstained five-chambered revolver, which he had discharged into his jaw. On the bed lay the bodies of his wife, mezzo-soprano Victoria London, 30, and Edward Manville, 40, a married man. The Jessolds’ two-month-old baby was found asleep in his crib.

Police reported that the administration of fatal doses of arsenic was the cause of death of Miss London and Mr Manville, raising the possibility that Jessold watched their death-agonies before taking his own life, therefore making the tragedy three-fold.

Earlier in the evening, all three had attended the dress rehearsal of the composer’s first opera, Little Musgrave, which was to be given its premiere by the English Opera Company in two days. At the private party that followed, Charles Jessold was seen in heated argument with Mr Manville, who subsequently departed with Miss London for the Jessolds’ Kensington home where they relieved the nurse who was caring for the Jessolds’ infant son.

Jessold had been drinking heavily and numerous witnesses reported that his behaviour was erratic. He told an intimate that his wife had stated her intention to end the marriage, retaining custody of the child.

Regardless of the composer’s death, gruesome parallels between this triple domestic tragedy and Jessold’s opera Little Musgrave, in which Lord Barnard murders his wife and her lover, ensure that the EOC has no choice but to cancel the production. It is expected that The Magic Flute, under the baton of Sir Arnold Bentham, will take its place in the repertory this season.

Charles Jessold was best known for the string quartet composed while he was captive at the Badenstein internment camp. Among his other compositions were The Soda Syphon Symphony, the tone poem Séance, the Folk-Song Oratorio, and his popular suite Shandyisms. In 1918, he was the first recipient of the Composers Guild’s Young Composer of the Year award.

The musical critic of this newspaper, a sometime collaborator of the composer, Leslie Shepherd, blamed Jessold’s alcoholism and obsessive nature, declaring the murders an unnecessary tragedy, one that would inevitably tarnish the composer’s legacy.