Cecil Forsyth

Cecil Forsyth was an English composer who studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Music in London, England. He also played the viola in various London orchestras.

He had a bit of success with his compositions including the Viola Concerto in G minor (which was premiered at the Proms in 1903 with Émile Férir as soloist and recorded in 2004 by Lawrence Power on the Hyperion label), the operas Westward Ho! and Cinderella, the “choral ballad” Tinker, Tailor, and a piece for viola and piano called Chanson celtique.

While he and his compositions are well known amongst viola players for giving their instrument the opportunity to shine, he is best known as an author. In 1914 he published a book titled Orchestration.

Forsyth described the history and inner workings of orchestral instruments as well as techniques and what is considered “playable” by musicians. The book is described as “an unparalleled insight into the inner working of an orchestra–a vivid impression of what it is like to be a violinist, clarinetist, trombonist, or other orchestral player.”


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