This website is dedicated to the English composer Cyril Bradley Rootham (CBR).

The aim is to bring the works of CBR to the attention of musicians and choirs, and to get CBR's fine choral music into print and available to all.

News in 2018

Latest update | 3 December 2018

  • 2 December 2018: this Sunday afternoon concert included a performance by Taunton Sinfonietta of CBR's ever-popular Op.61 Miniature Suite (1920) which the composer dedicated to his sister. More details and a photo of the event are on our Concerts page.
  • Poppies for remembrance 11 November 2018: the Armistice Centenary marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. The occasion triggered many acts of remembrance, including performances of CBR's Op.51 For the Fallen (1914). And in his "Hinterland" column, Simon Heffer praised CBR's Op.51 For the Fallen. The famous Richard Hickox recording of this work with the Northern Sinfonia of England, Sinfonia Chorus and BBC Northern Singers is now available as a download from Presto Classical.
  • 28 September 2018: belatedly we are adding a link to a recording from September 2017 of CBR's Op.90 Evening Service in E minor (1933) sung by the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge (for whom it was originally composed). It is fascinating to compare this recording with the 1965 recording made by the choir of Wells Cathedral - noting in particular how pronunciation has changed over the intervening decades.
  • 4 July 2018: at the Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan, USA), the Summer Camp Concert featured CBR's Op.83 Septet (1930) - a work dedicated to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. More details are on our Concerts page.
  • 22 June 2018: the Elgar Society's London branch held a meeting at Trinity College, Oxford which included several talks and a short organ recital in the College Chapel. One talk in particular is of interest to followers of Cyril Rootham's music: Philip Petchey gave an almost forensic analysis titled "Elgar, Binyon and Rootham". In this talk Philip examined in detail the correspondence surrounding the well-known 'misunderstanding' between Elgar and Rootham over their respective settings of Binyon's poem "For the Fallen". And fascinatingly, it turns out that neither composer was entirely blameless in this unfortunate affair: at one stage or another, each man conveniently 'forgot' statements which he had made in earlier letters! Our warm thanks to Philip for his even-handed and careful article: there's no hiding place from the scrutiny of the serious researcher.
    Elgar Society Meeting at Trinity College, Oxford
    In the Danson Room at Trinity College, Oxford (left to right):
    • Prof Michael Alexander (Speaker: "Aspects of Binyon")
    • Dame Hilary Boulding (President: Trinity College, Oxford)
    • Philip Petchey (Speaker: "Elgar, Binyon and Rootham")
    • Teresa Cahill (Soloist in recordings of Elgar's "The Spirit of England"
       and Rootham's "Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity")
    • Dan Rootham (grandson of Cyril Rootham)

  • 18 June 2018: to mark the successful transcription effort and public launch of the OpenScore Lieder Corpus, a Lieder recital was held at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. And in a generous gesture, the programme included a song by Cyril Rootham: Op.30 A Supplication (1908). This song is dedicated to "R. M. L." - otherwise known as Rosamond Margaret Lucas, the future wife of Cyril Rootham. On this auspicious occasion the song was performed by Will Bosworth, accompanied by Mark Gotham: more details and a photo of the Lieder Corpus team are on our Concerts page.
  • 20 Apr 2018: an informal recital to launch the CD of English flute music performed by James Dutton (flute) and Oliver Davies (piano). The recital included two movements from Rootham's Op.64 Suite in Three Movements, and James went on to give three further launch recitals in Norway and the USA.
    What's special about this music is that all these composers (including Cyril Rootham) had connections with the Royal College of Music, and that none of these works had previously been recorded for CD: hence the album's title "Idyll: The English Flute Unheard". More details on our Concerts page.
  • 9 Feb 2018: we now have a recording of Rootham's Op.88 "Suite for Pianoforte" (1933), in a performance by Philip Lange. This unusual four-movement piece is CBR's only work for solo piano and is dedicated "To Pamela McKenna".
  • 24 Jan 2018: we have found a recording by unknown performers of Rootham's Op.83 "Septet" (1930). This fascinating discovery consisted of a set of Compact Cassettes in the archive left by CBR's son Jasper Rootham, and we believe that the performance dates from the 1980s. If you can help us to identify the players, please get in touch through our Feedback page.
  • 7 Jan 2018: we have started to build a list of First Performance Dates for Rootham's compositions. If you can provide premiere dates for any unlisted works (or correct dates for the few listed works), do please let us know through our Feedback page.
  • 6 Jan 2018: thanks to the MuseScore notation software, you can now follow the score of Rootham's Op.90 No.2 Evening Service in E minor (1933) while listening to the famous recording made in Wells Cathedral by Denys Pouncey back in 1965. This recording is contained in the 5-CD box set The Treasury of English Church Music.
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Short biography

Cyril Bradley Rootham (CBR) was a composer, conductor, teacher and college organist. For most of his working life he was based at St John's College, Cambridge - a place which he loved. So far five generations of the Rootham family had connections with or have graduated from St John's College.

Although a prolific composer in his own right, CBR also directed his efforts towards the revival of neglected works by established composers (Purcell, Mozart and Handel) and in the promotion of new music from contemporary composers (Vaughan Williams, Kodály, Honegger and Pizzetti ). As conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS), CBR had at his disposal a large orchestra for such musical ventures. The article about CBR on Wikipedia provides more details about his career.

From 1900 until his early death in 1938, CBR was an influential figure in Cambridge musical life. He became Senior Lecturer in Counterpoint and Harmony, and taught a number of musicians who went on to become significant composers (including Arthur Bliss, Armstrong Gibbs and Patrick Hadley).

Previously at the Proms...


What's next?

Future plans: during 2018 this website will expand gradually, augmenting the list of CBR's works, telling you about upcoming editions of CBR's music, announcing live concerts, and adding more synchronised score pages to works in the Playlist.

Note: if you have any information you would like to contribute to the website, or if you are planning a performance of one of CBR's works, please do get in touch through our Feedback page.

Share: do share a page link to the CBR website