by Norbert Meyn, Royal College of Music
Welcome to this website about the composer Norman O’Neill. It is our intention to harness the power of the internet to introduce you to this wonderful composer and make the sheet music as well as biographical information in different formats widely available.
Having studied at Dr Hoch’s Conservatoire in Frankfurt (now the Music Academy Frankfurt am Main) in the 1890s with Ivan Knorr (himself a pupil of Ignatz Moscheles, a friend of Beethoven and Mendelssohn), he shares his musical lineage with Roger Quilter and Percy Grainger, but also with Ernst Toch, Hans Pfitzner and Ernest Bloch. His music is of the highest quality and supreme elegance, and there are many treasures to be discovered here.
O’Neill published a great number of art songs as well as chamber and piano music with the leading publishers of his time. Since these publications are now out of copyright we were able to make them available for free download in PDF format (under WORKS). Most of these scores came from the shelves of the Royal College of Music library, where they are accessible to the public.
Many more unpublished scores remain in the collections of the Royal College of Music and elsewhere. Building on previous work by Lloyd Smith for The Delius Society of Philadelphia, we were able to prepare modern performing editions of four wonderful pieces, the String Quartet in C major, Piano Trio in A minor, Piano Quintet in E minor and Theme and Variations on 'Pretty Polly Oliver'. In addition, we are making O’Neill’s Drei Lieder (with German texts) available for the first time. These scores can be found on the RCM EDITIONS page. They will also be available from the RCM Research Online repository.
As the foremost theatre composer, O’Neill wrote much orchestral music for the small theatre orchestras of his time, as incidental music to plays by Shakespeare (including Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice and Henry V), Maurice Maeterlinck or J.M Barrie, to name but a few. This treasure trove, perfect for modern chamber orchestras and closely aligned to the fascinating history of early 20th century theatre, is waiting to explored.
I am pleased that we were also able to include biographical information about Adine O’Neill (née Rückert), who had studied with Clara Schumann and became a leading performer in Britain and beyond. You can hear a recording of her playing as well.
All texts from this website as well as images from the family archive can be used freely in concert programmes and publications as long as this website and authors of the texts are acknowledged. Please get in touch with the web master if you would like your events to be posted in the news section.
We hope you will enjoy discovering the music of Norman O’Neill.
Royal College of Music