Alexander Burnard - Australian Heritage Series
Alexander Burnard (1900-1971)
Anyone who studied at the State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney during Burnard's teaching years there would vividly remember a kindly man with a pipe who gave endless harmony and counterpoint classes to often unwilling or obtuse performance students. Composition as a subject was not available, and working with Burnard was often the closest that one could get to studying composition. Alex never pushed his barrow as a composer, and the richly illustrated lessons with him were quotations not from his own works, but the works of composers he admired or knew personally, or had studied with: much from Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine), whose music he knew well enough to regurgitate on the spot, sometimes from his mentor and teacher Vaughan Williams, occasionally from Delius and Grainger, and a huge amount from Bach, whose music he knew really well. His teaching activity was not necessarily equated with being a composer; that was the tone and culture of the day - mid- 20th century Australia.
I first became aware of Burnard as a composer when, during a piano recital given by Raymond Hanson, there was a bracket of chorale-preludes by Burnard, which Hanson introduced as "amongst the best chorale-preludes ever composed". It is therefore doubly a pleasure to see these very pieces finally in print, after all these years.
Professor Larry Sitsky
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