(b Newquay, 30 Dec 1919). English conductor, organist and teacher. He was a chorister at Westminster Abbey (1929–33) and studied at the RCM before becoming organ scholar at King's College, Cambridge (1939). War service, during which he won the Military Cross, interrupted his studies, but he returned to complete them (1945–7), then became organist of Salisbury Cathedral (1947–50) and of Worcester Cathedral (1950–57), during which time he conducted the Three Choirs Festival. He introduced Duruflé's Requiem to Britain in 1952. Willcocks returned to Cambridge in 1957 to become organist of King's College Chapel and director of the chapel choir. He developed its already famous choral tradition with distinction, enlarged the choir's repertory, and brought it before a wider public through broadcasts, recordings and overseas tours. He toured with the choir in Europe, Canada and Africa. The annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve became a distinctive mixture of the new and the familiar, heard and seen in many parts of the world through television and radio broadcasts.
Willcocks was elected a fellow of King's College on his appointment, and conducted the Cambridge University Musical Society for 16 years from 1958. In 1960 he became conductor of the Bach Choir in London, giving frequent premières of works by contemporary British composers. He began to tour with the Bach Choir both at home and abroad. They gave the first performance of Britten's War Requiem in Italy (1963, La Scala), then in Japan, Portugal and the Netherlands. They made the first complete recording of Bach's St Matthew Passion in English in 1978 and an acclaimed recording of Belshazzar's Feast in 1990. Willcocks was president of the Royal College of Organists (1966–8) and director of the RCM (1974–84), conducting the college choir and orchestra at the Aldeburgh and Windsor festivals. He was made a CBE in 1971 and was knighted in 1977.
C.Ford: ‘Master of the King’s Sound’, The Guardian (18 Dec 1971)
ARTHUR JACOBS/IAN CARSON
(fl 14th century). Theorist. He was possibly the author of the anonymously preserved late 14th-century treatise Breviarium regulare musice. A medieval catalogue gives this name for a treatise of that title formerly in the library of the Augustinian friars in York. Rather strikingly, this author cited many other contemporary theorists, or those of his immediate past, beginning with Franco of Cologne and ending with Johannes Torkesey, whom he quoted at length. Mensural music was his prime consideration, though he was scholastic enough to quote the Greek letters of Boethius’s discussion of ancient notation. Willelmus’s main interest was the smallest and largest note value, namely the semiminima and largissima. He tried to overcome the illogical use of the term semiminima for the smallest note, and called it minima, proposing the name minuta for what we normally call the minim. Kurt von Fischer has made the suggestion that Willelmus might be identical with the G[uilielmus] de Anglia who was involved with the copying and possibly the writing, in the fullest sense of the word, of certain treatises in US-Cn 54.1 (e.g. the Ars perfecta attributed to Philippe de Vitry). However, there are too many errors and omissions in this source for Willelmus to be the copyist.
M.R.James: The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover (Cambridge, 1903), 8, 18, 421, 424–5, 427
M.R.James: ‘The Catalogue of the Library of the Augustinian Friars at York’, Fasciculus Ioanni Willis Clark dicatus (Cambridge, 1909), 2–96, esp. 4, 83
G.Reaney, ed.: Breviarium regulare musicae, CSM, xii/a (1966) [introduction appears also in MD, xi (1957), 31–7]
K.von Fischer: ‘Eine wiederaufgefundene Theoretikerhandschrift des späten 14. Jahrhunderts’, Schweizer Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft, i (1972), 23–33
P.Lefferts, ed.: Robertus de Handlo: Regule, and Johannes Hanboys: Summa (Lincoln, NE, 1991), 3, 56–7
Willelmus de Winchecumbe.
SeeWycombe, W. de.
(b Seeshaupt, Bavaria, 1888; d Munich, 27 April 1970). German mezzo-soprano. She studied in Munich, where she sang first in the opera chorus. In 1910, on the recommendation of Bruno Walter, she appeared as Annius in La clemenza di Tito, and she remained closely associated with the company until her retirement, as Erda in Siegfried, in 1955. At Munich she sang in the première of Korngold’s Violanta (1916) as well as in two Pfitzner premières, Palestrina (1917) and Das Herz (1931). In 1930 she sang Clytemnestra in Iphigénie en Aulide at Salzburg, where she reappeared in 1943 as Adelaide in Arabella. She also sang widely throughout Germany, and in 1926 and 1931 was at Covent Garden, considered ‘extremely fine vocally’ as Fricka in Die Walküre, her other roles being Brangäne, Erda and Magdalene in Die Meistersinger. Her repertory also included Dorabella, Carmen, Azucena and Delilah, and recordings show a good voice skilfully used, with characterful treatment of words.
(b Bludenz, Vorarlberg, 7 Jan 1956). Austrian composer. His initial studies were in theology and philosophy at the University of Innsbruck as well as in school music and bassoon at the conservatory in Innsbruck. It was not until 1983 that he began to study composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum, first with Helmut Eder and later also with Boguslav Schäffer. After finishing his studies, he was awarded the Förderpreis für Musik of the Republic of Austria for his orchestral work Aura I. Subsequently he received a bursary to go to Rome in 1987–8.
Willi made his international breakthrough in 1989, at the ‘Wien modern’ festival, when his Der Froschmäusekrieg, a work for solo voice (Sprechgesang), three orchestral groups and tape, based on the ancient Greek Batrachomyomachie, had its première under Abbado. Numerous commissions for works followed: from Bavarian Radio (Räume for orchestra, 1991), the Salzburg Festival (Concerto for Orchestra, 1991–2, also performed in Cleveland, New York and London under Christoph von Dohnányi), the Vienna Philharmonic (Begegnung for Orchestra, 1999), the Staatsoper in Munich (Flute Concerto, 1993) and the Zürich Opernhaus, where Willi's first opera Schlafes Bruder (1994–5), on themes from a novel by Robert Schneider, had its première in 1996.
Stylistically, Willi's music is difficult to categorize: it follows neither strict serial principles nor postmodernist tendencies, although it does not eschew tonal centres completely alien to it. The composer lives in seclusion in the village of St Anton in Montafon, and as with Olivier Messiaen, a feeling of closeness to nature shapes the way he composes, according to a process of ‘inner hearing’, whereby abstract impulses take on concrete musical shape as strict proportional relationships of rhythms and intervals. He was awarded the Austrian Ehrenkreuz in 1997.
Op: Schlafes Bruder (R. Schneider), 1994–5
Orch: Aura I, 1985; Aurora-Giove, 1987–8; Il combattimento di Cecco e la sua compagnia, vc, str, 1988; Der Froschmäusekrieg, v, 3 orch groups, tape, 1989; Räume, 1991; Conc. for Orch, 1991–2; Fl Conc., 1993; Begegnung, 1999