The 'V and W Bug'
This Quiz title might make you expect questions about beetles rather than composers or musicians!

The 'V and W Bug'

Thanks not least to one of the better ideas of A Hitler, the VW marque is known more or less all over the world. Given that classical music scores heavily on composers and musicians at the front of the alphabet (B's and C's in particular), while there are also a good many S's and T's, you may be surprised how many there still are even beyond that in the alphabet. There's plenty of wag in the tail of this entirely arbitrary order, as you're about to see and hear ...

One of the earliest classics of 'programme music' (i.e. descriptive) is the cycle of concerti The Four Seasons. Which of these composers was responsible for it?
Edgar Varese
Antonio Vivaldi
William Walton
Samuel Wesley
This is of course that great Venetian of the high Baroque ... and maybe you can also smell the pizza (of the same name as the work), in your mind's nostril!
Another Parisian organist, he composed several 'Symphonies' for the instrument, including his 5th (in 1879) whose glittering final movement was taken up, after about 80 years, by various European royalty as 'the' wedding recessional ~ initially, for Princess Margaret in 1960. The piece is known simply by the composer's surname and its own generic title ... as ... ?
Vierne's Carillon de Westminster
Widor's Toccata
Walther's Processional
Voilier's Fanfare
Answer 1 is a genuine and even plausible alternative; Answers 3 and 4 were total fakes in this case. The composer in question was Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937), who was a formidable player himself and served an astonishing 64 years as titulaire of the flagship Cavaille-Col organ in the Paris church of St-Sulpice. Far from being the 'one-hit composer' some people assume, he wrote a wide range and corpus of music and was Professor of Organ at the city's Conservatoire
One very famous and relatively recent British composer comes doubly into this Quiz category since two of his names each fit within it: Ralph Vaughan Williams (often known with affectionate brevity as 'RVW'). His output included a cycle of nine symphonies, several successful film scores, and (despite him never having an active religious faith) the musical editing of not one, but two widely-used hymnbooks. The tune now almost universally sung to the Whit Sunday hymn Come down, o Love divine is named by VW for the Gloucestershire village in whose vicarage he was born: where was/is this?
Down Ampney
Little Rissington
Answer 4 might have been tempting in the context (and is genuine) but is spurious. Organists may be amused that not far from the Ampneys are another pair of villages called Upper and Lower Swell; meanwhile the present author can vouch that the charming organ at All Saints', Down Ampney, has only a single manual, on which he has played not only the eponymous tune but also VW's delightful Prelude on the Welsh tune Rhosymedre, during a 'pilgrimage' visit (in fact, a 'composer crawl') with the Friends of the English Music Festival
This composer probably wouldn't leap into anyone's 'top ten', even within our current alphabetic limits, but if we reveal that he was Mozart's father-in-law (after Mozart had failed to woo one of Constanze's other three musical sisters), his calibre may begin to emerge. This principal composer had his first work published in Leipzig at the ripe age of 12 and went on to write three operas, besides much else ~ including numerous concerti for brass and woodwind instruments ~ and his influence on the Romantic generation of composers was considerable, with Berlioz referring to him repeatedly in his monumental treatise on orchestration.
Who was this composer?
Carl Maria von Weber
Georg Christoph Wagenseil
Max Vogrich
Robert Volkmann
Weber is well worth a listen, too
This picaresque composer's assumed surname begins with a W but he was born Philip Heseltine, and possibly best remembered for his Capriol Suite, as well as a haunting setting of the carol Bethlehem Down. His creative muse appears to have run alongside a streak of mental or moral weakness, for while mixing with many great figures in the world of the arts he was prone to various forms of bingeing, and appears to have been responsible for his own death by gas poisoning shortly before Christmas 1930 in his own mid-thirties. It has since plausibly emerged that the distinctive and sometimes waspish art critic Brian Sewell (born two months after this event) was his love-child.
Anyway, by what name is this Heseltine better known to the music-loving public?
Peter Warlock
Percy Whitlock
Cedric Wizzard
Aleister Witchcraft
Peter Warlock is buried in the town cemetery at Godalming in Surrey. Answer 2 was a slight 'soundalike' for a very different and more subtly puckish near-contemporary (see q.3 above); No.3 was a fake in the JK Rowling mould, and No.4 holds echoes of Aleister Crowley (don't ask)
This is another British composer whose music you may (indeed, even should) know yet whose name you may not. He was born in Kent in 1903, studied with VW (as above) at the Royal College of Music, and after a stint as assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral ~ where he had been a chorister ~ spent the rest of his life based in Bournemouth, as a parish organist, and also as Borough Organist, playing the 4-manual Compton concert organ in the Pavilion Theatre. A lifelong sufferer from hypertension and TB, he survived the Second World War, only to die, blinded and of these principal medical causes, a few weeks shy of his 43rd birthday. His collections of organ miniatures (the 'Songs without words' of the British organ loft) are beautifully crafted, accessible and as such widely played and loved; many fine orchestral pieces have recently come to light and been recorded.
But who was this modest, amiable and capable musician?
Peter Warlock
Percy Whitlock
William Wolstenholme
Edgar Wallace
Dare we suggest so, the kind of person who has found their way into doing this Quiz would almost certainly be likely to enjoy Whitlock's music if not already be familiar with it
This may be straining the definition of 'classical music' very slightly, but we are now looking for the name of the American composer whose song about a train achieved the first Gold Disc in the weeks shortly after the USA actively entered World War Two: as such, Chattanooga Choo-Choo is an indisputable classic in its field and in the public ear at large.
This composer was no 'one-hit wonder': his score for 42nd Street alone includes plentiful other hummable items, and over 40 years he appears to have written some 800 songs. Who was he?
Walter Williams
Harry Warren
Jack Wienawski
Rudolph Wurlitzer
Born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna, he is better known by the Anglicised version of his name.
Wurlitzer (Answer 4) founded the company which, during Warren's heyday, installed large theatre organs in cinemas and other venues ~ on which, no doubt, many of Warren's perennially popular ditties were performed and appreciated with relish in the Big Band-style
We are back among the true classics for our final tail-of-the-alphabet composer, who might fairly be defined as 'following Schubert and Schumann' as a composer ~ or setter ~ of Lieder (German art-songs), though a generation or so later he was taking the genre into fresh areas, particularly in regard to his harmonic innovations. It is, further, somehow appropriate that a successor to Schubert (who set many early Romantic poems about nature and folklore) should himself have a surname evocative of Grimm's fairy tales, and of the ambivalent relationship of people with the forested landscapes of central Europe.
Who was he?
Anton Webern
August Wiltberger
Hugo Wolf
Herbert Windt
All the other names are authentic, but Wolf ~ surely ~ is the catchiest name once one has listened to Schubert's Winterreise or the challenging Goethe ballad 'The Erlking'. (Oddly enough, there is a different but comparably evocative setting of that by another composer whose surname was Loewe [ = lion ]; but let's not get distracted onto that, if only since his wild-animal surname does not begin with V or W)
Knighted for his services to music, principally the choral and orchestral repertoire, including film scores and iconic marches for national occasions, he shared his initials with the standard musical abbreviation for 'woodwind/s'. Who was he?
William Walond
William Walton
Walter Wolstenholme
Wilfred Whitrow
Probably best known for his cantata Belshazzar's Feast, the avant-garde entertainment Facade and such 'heir-to-Elgar' marches as Orb and Sceptre, Crown Imperial and the Spitfire Prelude and Fugue for the filmscore of The First of the Few (one of no fewer than four films he scored during 1942)
In English their names would, respectively, be Joe Green and Dick Carter; but in their original languages, these two were the colossi of opera in southern and northern Europe during the 19th century.
Who were they?
Antonio Vivaldi and Klaus Wegener
Emmanuel Vittorio and Christoph Wagenseil
Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner
Dag Wiren and Max Vogrich
These two composers were also much feted on their recent joint bicentenary


Author:  Ian Miles

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