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Born into a musical family, Foulds learnt piano and cello from a young age, playing the latter in the Hallé Orchestra from 1990 with his father, a bassoonist. He was deeply interested in Eastern philosophy like his fellow composers Holst and Scriabin, and explored meditation and the music of India with his second wife, violinist Maud MacCarthy. They emigrated to India in 1935 when Foulds became the head of European Music at Indian radio, but his life was cut short by cholera in 1939.
A self-taught composer, Foulds never found acceptance among the eschelons of the British music establishment: his left-wing views were viewed with suspicion by many, and his writing of light music to earn a living was seen as detrimental to any 'serious' work. His work mixes tonality and atonality at will as well as aspects of Indian music.
A World Requiem
, a gargantuan work in terms of size of forces and the scope of its spiritual enquiry, was performed at anniversary concerts for the Armistice of the First World War at the Royal Albert Hall between 1923 and 1926, but was largely forgotten until a more recent reappraisal that has placed his work at the forefront of its time.
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