Alan Ridout’s music for counter-tenor

Andrew Plant

Swallowtail Print Ltd (2022)

This is the first monograph devoted to the music of Alan Ridout (1934–1996), one of the most prolific composers of his time. He studied at the RCM under Howells and Jacob, and afterwards privately with Fricker, Badings and Tippett. Ridout, who was also an author, teacher and broadcaster, was based for many years at Canterbury Cathedral Choir School, where he was, in effect, composer in residence. He eventually attained a fluent and accessible tonal language influenced by modes and plainsong within uncomplicated parameters: all of which, of course, placed him firmly outside much of the prevailing confederacy. 

Exceptionally industrious, his tally of well over nine hundred works includes examples in almost every genre, including a copious quantity of religious and educational music. While Ridout certainly enjoyed some success in his day, a considerable portion of his work has now fallen into obscurity and neglect, and many of his manuscripts are unaccounted for. The majority of his scores for counter-tenor were designed for Alfred Deller or James Bowman, and are among his finest and most moving pieces, displaying a keen response to texts and an appealing unsentimental lyricism. 

Andrew Plant is a pianist and musicologist. A former member of the specialist staff of the Britten–Pears Library. He
holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham and has contributed to several scholarly volumes, including New Grove and the Oxford DNB. His work on Ridout was stimulated through his numerous appearances as accompanist to James Bowman, in which capacity he appeared throughout the UK, in France and Slovenia, and recorded for NMC and

The Higher Storie is a greatly expanded version of a paper that originally appeared in British Music 43. The music examples are here reproduced with pristine clarity, complemented with many images and photos, many not hitherto published. It is hoped that typeset versions of the scores will be produced to facilitate future performances. In the meantime, with unrestricted access to many original manuscripts and papers held by the original executants, this thoroughly researched and beautifully produced volume traces the flowering of a remarkable legacy. 

Limited edition of 150 copies available only through £20 including p&p