Lee, Ernest Markham

Ernest Markham Lee (June 8, 1874 - November 13, 1956), an English composer, poet, lecturer, pianist, and organist, was born in and attended Perse School and Emmanuel College (Charles Wood taught him). As Professor of Organ at the Guildhall School of Music, Extension Lecturer at Oxford, Cambridge, and London Universities, Examiner for the Associated Board and the Royal Schools of Music (in which capacity he visited Canada, New Zealand, India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Malta, and Jamaica), festival adjudicator, and Organist at All Saints Woodfolk, Ernest Markham Lee was a busy man (he directed the Woodford Green chamber concerts). He was married with two daughters; his son was killed in Italy in 1914-1918.

Ernest Markham Lee's compositions were diverse, but there was a focus on work for musical amateurs, especially young musical amateurs, as with many of the people profiled in this sequence. For piano, there was the suite Dreams and Delights, as well as several studies and a plethora of simple short pieces; for piano duet, he wrote two sequences of six pieces each on Alice in Wonderland; and for young violinists, there were the four pieces of The Fiddle and I. The preludes Hesperus and Serapis, as well as the Modern Suite, were among his more ambitious piano works. Naughty Mary (SATB), Tender Sleep Enfold Thee (women's voices unaccompanied or SATB), The Dream Seller for upper voices, and Seamates Brave and Smugglers ("A boat craft and a free craft"), both for four-part male voice choirs, were among the cantatas and part-songs he contributed, both original and orchestrated from folk tunes, appropriate for festivals. Rainbow Time, a hit in the early years of the twenty-first century, was one of his solo albums. An anthem for mixed and women's voices, as well as a variety of organ parts, an Overture Alla Marcia, and a Romance in A (both from 1904), and Capricietto and Scherzo in A (both from 1925), reminded us that he was a church organist and choirmaster.

Ernest Markham Lee wrote a light opera, Paris in Spring, that was only moderately successful, as well as a large amount of orchestral music. On the other hand, the rivers of Devon (Tamar, Dart, Torridge, Lyn), transcribed for strings from piano originals, show a passion for Devon in his Moorland and Torland, West Country Suite, and Rivers of Devon (Tamar, Dart, Torridge, Lyn). The latter suite, as well as the suites Round The North Sea (No 3 In The Fjords, perhaps as a reference to Grieg, about whom he wrote a book) and Light Heart, were premiered in Torquay by the Municipal Orchestra on March 6, 1934; they were written for strings only and would be ideal for amateur orchestras. Florestina, the intermezzo, was a moderate success. Other than Rowley and Thiman, Ernest Markham Lee's published books deal with musical history and biography. At the same time, his list includes The Music Lover's Ear Tests, On Listening to Music (1918), A Course of Music, and Musical Theory and Knowledge (1923) to contrast with biographies of Tchaikovsky (1904) and Edvard Grieg (1908, the year after he died) and The Story of Opera (1909). 

Violin Compositions of Ernest Markham Lee | Animato Strings


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