(bFontmell Magna, Dorset, 8 July 1879; d Blandford, 12 March 1964). English author, collector and publisher. After training as a writer on various popular journals, Flower joined the publishers Cassell & Co. in 1906 and took over as proprietor in 1927. He was knighted in 1938. His purely literary work includes an edition of the journals of Arnold Bennett.
Flower’s musical interests were amateur. His books are marred by a poor literary style and the absence of scholarly discipline, though the use of previously unknown documentary material gives them some value. His important collection of manuscripts and early printed editions of Handel’s music (including the bulk of the Aylesford Manuscripts, copied for Handel’s friend Charles Jennens) was acquired by the Henry Watson Library, Manchester, in 1965.
L.W.Duck: ‘The Aylesford Handel Manuscripts’, Manchester Review, x (1965), 228–32
W.C.Smith: A Handelian’s Notebook (London, 1965), esp. 46–51
A.D.Walker: George Frideric Handel: the Newman Flower Collection in the Henry Watson Library (Manchester, 1972)
Floyd, Carlisle (Sessions)
(b Latta, SC, 11 June 1926). American composer. His ancestors on both sides were among the earliest European immigrants to the Carolinas. During his childhood his father, a Methodist minister, was posted to a variety of small South Carolina towns, and the composer has derived much inspiration from this background. Almost all his operas have southern, rural or colonial settings.
In 1943 Floyd entered Converse College (Spartanburg, SC), where he studied the piano with Ernst Bacon. When Bacon took a position at Syracuse University, New York, in 1945, Floyd followed him there as his pupil (BM 1946); in 1947 Floyd was appointed to the piano faculty of Florida State University in Talahassee; he remained there for nearly 30 years, eventually becoming professor of composition. Until 1955, however, he was primarily a pianist, returning to Syracuse for a master’s degree (1949), then taking private piano lessons with Sidney Foster and Firkušný.
While at Syracuse he began to take an interest in composition. Drawing on existing skills as a playwright (as an undergraduate he had won a competition for one-act plays), he wrote his first operas. His third attempt, Susannah (an updating of the biblical tale of Susannah and the Elders), proved a tremendous success. Initially mounted in Talahassee in 1955, it was taken up by the New York City Opera and performed in New York in September 1956 to great acclaim, garnering for its composer a New York Music Critics’ Circle Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and several other awards. The work was chosen to represent American opera at the Brussels World Fair (1958), and has since become a repertory item. It remains the linchpin of Floyd’s reputation. Of the subsequent operas, Of Mice and Men (1969) has achieved the greatest success. In 1976 Floyd left his Talahassee post for an equivalent position at the University of Houston in Texas, becoming also co-director of the Houston Opera Studio. He retired from teaching in 1996.
The guiding spirit of Floyd’s operas is a studied, almost draconian pragmatism that makes them attractively easy to stage while limiting the heights to which they can aspire. Casts and orchestras are small; plots, action and scenery uncomplicated. No unusual instruments, voices or theatre technologies are required, nor any great virtuosity in the performers. There is little counterpoint, or any other musical feature that would demand more than minimal rehearsal time.
Musically, Floyd owes a great deal to Ernst Bacon. His work is most readily understood as a nostalgic continuation of the populist ‘social realism’ of the 1930s and 40s, a style of which Bacon was a characteristic exponent. In Floyd’s case, this takes the form of an all-purpose substrate of quartal harmonies with numerous parallel 5ths, supporting melodies imitative of various American folk genres. The later operas, starting with Of Mice and Men, display greater chromaticism and metric flexibility.
Dramatically, the operas continue the verismo tradition. Floyd, who wrote his own librettos, relied heavily on the dramaturgy for emotional effect: directions for facial expression and the like are unusually detailed, and emotional climaxes are often expressed by moments of silence or in spoken dialogue.
all to librettos by Floyd
Slow Dusk (musical play, 1), Syracuse, U. of Syracuse, 2 May 1949, vs (New York, 1957)
The Fugitives (op), Talahassee, Florida State U., 1951, withdrawn
Susannah (musical drama, 2), Talahassee, Florida State U., 24 Feb 1955, vs (New York, 1957, 2/1967)
Wuthering Heights (musical drama, prol., 3, after E. Brontë), Santa Fe, 16 July 1958; rev.1959, vs (New York, 1961)
The Passion of Jonathan Wade (op, 3), New York, City Opera, 11 Oct 1962; rev. version, Houston, Wortham, 18 Jan 1991
The Sojourner and Mollie Sinclair (comic op, 1), Raleigh, NC, East Carolina College, 2 Dec 1963, vs (New York, 1968)
Markheim (op, 1, after R.L. Stevenson), New Orleans, Municipal Auditorium, 31 March 1966, vs (New York, 1968)
Of Mice and Men (musical drama, 3, after J. Steinbeck), Seattle, 22 Jan 1970, vs (New York, 1971)
Flower and Hawk (monodrama, 1), Jacksonville, Civic Auditorium, 16 May 1972, vs (New York, 1977)
Willie Stark (op, 3, after R.P. Warren: All the King’s Men), Houston, 24 April 1981
Cold Sassy Tree (comic op, 3, after O.A. Burns), Houston, Wortham Center, 14 April 2000
Pilgrimage (song cycle, Bible), Bar, orch, 1956; Piano Sonata, 1957; The Mystery (song cycle, G. Mistral), S, orch, 1960; Introduction, Aria, and Dance, orch, 1967; In Celebration, ov., orch, 1971; Citizen of Paradise (song cycle, E. Dickinson), Mez, pf, 1983; A Time to Dance, Bar, chorus, orch, 1994