It’s one of the most important institutions for English music in the 20th Century—a place that Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Michael Tippett poured their heart and soul into. The buildings witnessed the creation of some of the best known works of the last century. But it’s almost certain you’ll not know of it, and it’s barely mentioned in the conventional histories of the period.
The place is Morley College. It was one of the earliest institutions to provide evening classes for working-class men and women. It has none of the grand edifices of the Royal College or the Royal Academy. But surprisingly, Morley College was responsible for the revival of early English music—composers like Henry Purcell, William Byrd and Thomas Tallis—whose works hadn’t been heard for centuries. At the same time the College was the only place in London to hear new works by contemporary British composers—names that we take for granted today.
The College has survived wars and dramatic cultural change, and today, as it celebrates its 125th anniversary, Morley is a thriving, creative venue for the people of South London.
Radio National’s Michael Shirrefs knows a bit about Morley College. He attended classes there for 4 years in the early 90s, and the passion and ethic of the place has stayed with him.
Andrea Brown—Music Director at Morley College in London
Leanne Langley—Social and cultural historian specialising in classical music in Britain
Rachel Landgren—Researcher at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music who is studying the revival of early English music at the turn of the 20th century
Jonathan Grieves-Smith—Chorus Master with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Dr Sue Cole—Musicologist with a focus on English composer Sir Michael Tippett and the revival of early English music
Michael Graubart—Composer, conductor and Director of Music at Morley College in London from 1969-91
Title—Offspring of the Vic: A History of Morley College
Publisher—Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958 (out of print)
Sound Engineers—Matthew Crawford & Peter Watts
Readers—Richard Piper / Nicholas Coghlan / Belinda McClory
© 2014—Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN