World Requiem was unofficially banned

New research has revealed a conspiracy against maverick composer John Foulds - famed for directing the Albert Hall's Festival of Remembrance between 1923 and 1926.

James Mansell from The University of Manchester was given access to BBC archives and the British Library to research events surrounding what he regards as the unofficial banning of the World Requiem. 

The requiem was performed at the festival set up by Manchester-born Foulds and his wife Maud MacCarthy, who donated all proceeds to the poppy appeal. 

Though now regarded as a masterpiece, the piece with full orchestra and a 1000-strong choir of 'untrained singers' was branded as boring by the then Director of Music for the BBC - Sir Adrian Boult.

 The School of Arts, Histories and Cultures researcher has been piecing together evidence to find out who took the final decision to silence Foulds's masterwork in 1926.

 After spurning calls for its performance since the 1930s, the BBC is finally organising a Royal Albert Hall performance this remembrance day (Nov 11).

 It is 81 years since the work was last performed. Since its banning, remembrance day has been commemorated with a traditional military concert.

James said: "I don't yet know who took the final decision to axe this great work - though it could possibly have been Sir Adrian Boult, the BBC's then Director of Music. Foulds certainty felt persecuted by the BBC.

 "Other candidates included Field marshal Earl Haig who ran the poppy appeal for the British legion and editor of the Express Newspaper Ralph Blumenfeld.

 "But the reasons for its banning are clear: Foulds was an international socialist, whose minimalist style of music went against the more traditionalist approach of luminaries such Edward Elgar and Vaughan Williams who disliked him.

 "The BBC pigeonholed him as a composer of popular music even though Foulds saw himself as a serious composer.

 "But in my view, Foulds was a pioneering modernist whose interest in Indian culture led to him introducing the quarter tone to his work. It had never been used before in modern Western music."

 He added: "Foulds unorthodox outlook didn't go down too well with the British legion - even though he donated every penny he earned from the Festival of Remembrance to the poppy appeal.

 "He was criticised for not having served in World War One and his interest in the occult was also at odds with the establishment. 

"Perhaps another factor was his eccentricities: Foulds claimed to have heard the music for the World Requiem from angels.

 "John and Maud were persuaded to move to India in 1934 after they came across what they regarded as the miracle of a cockney living in London who apparently spoke Sanskrit.

 "They referred to the Cockney as 'The Boy' and Maud married him after the composer died of Cholera in 1939.

 "After the war, his papers were lost and he descended into obscurity until Maud started lobbying the BBC to revive his works in the 1960s." 

Notes for editors

James Mansell is available for comment 

James' paper on Foulds is available 

For more details contact:
Mike Addelman
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
0771 881567