Destinations Magazine

A Kensington Playlist – Sir Arthur Bliss

By Lwblog @londonwalks
DC Editor Adam writes…
I’m out and about in Kensington today leading the Old Kensington tour for London Walks. You can join me every second Thursday at 2pm meeting at High Street Kensington tube. 
Today I’m introducing you to my new Kensington Playlist - songs and pieces about, inspired by and composed in Kensington.
 I’ll be adding to it as the weeks go by – everything from Queen to Flanders & Swann – but there’s only one possible starting point. Hubert Parry and his most famous piece, Jerusalem.
We swing by Hubert Parry’s former residence on the Kensington tour…
A Kensington Playlist – Sir Arthur Bliss
The second piece is, perhaps, a little more off-the-beaten track.
 I’ve been listening to the music of 20th Century English composer Sir Arthur Bliss (1891 - 1975) lately - inspired by Tom Service’s excellent BBC Radio 3 programme & podcast The Listening Service. Download & listen here:
My Bliss-binge, combined with the changing of the seasons - Kensington always wears her autumnal plumage well – brought me to Bliss’s The Approach of Autumn from his ballet Adam Zero (1946).
Bliss wrote the piece while resident in Kensington, at 15 Cottesmore Gardens where he lived during the post war period.
Adam Zero was premiered at Covent Garden in 1946 with Constant Lambert conducting. Lambert was also a sometime Kensingtonite, residing at 42 Peel Street from 1929-31. The piece is melancholy and intensely dramatic, dominated by pensive woodwind and nagged by chilly strings. I love it…
Bliss was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 1953 and in this capacity he composed pieces for the funeral of Winston Churchill and the investiture of the Prince of Wales.
In 1936 he composed the score for the early British sci-fi film Things To Come (based on H.G Well's The Shape of Things To Come). Here's the trailer with Bliss's histrionic score wonderfully at odds with the stiffly posh actors…

Bliss is represented elsewhere on the London landscape with a blue plaque in Hampstead.
I'll be updating my Kensington Playlist over the next few weeks. In the meantime, join me on the Old Kensington tour with London Walks. We meet at High Street Kensington tube - £10/£8 pay on the day or book now via my online shop Pay-A-Tour (click the street sign below)…

Kensington Playlist Arthur Bliss

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