Today we present a varied selection of music, both Light and Classical, from English composers of the 20th Century, including Elgar and Vaughan Williams (primarily), along with Walton, Delius, Coates, Charles Williams and others. In addition to a number of
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From the Library — An English Experience

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Friday, 2 May, 2008

Today we present a varied selection of music, both Light and Classical, from English composers of the 20th Century, including Elgar and Vaughan Williams (primarily), along with Walton, Delius, Coates, Charles Williams and others. In addition to a number of well-known pieces, we’ll be featuring some complete classical works – and among them the unique experience of hearing Sir Edward Elgar conduct some of his own work.

There will also be a few other items of a quintessentially English nature. One which might not come to mind exactly as “quintessentially English” is Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, written by this leading film music composer for the film Dangerous Moonlight (1941: released in the US as Suicide Squadron). The screenplay – which features a Polish musical virtuoso who escapes to Britain during WWII and joins the RAF – called for a Rachmaninov-style piano concerto. Sergei Rachmaninov was apparently approached to compose the item but declined, so Addinsell wrote the famous piece, that is still performed today, himself. The piece was an immediate and enormous hit, and inspired a number of imitators which have become known as the ‘Denham Concertos’ after the Buckinghamshire film studios, but few are remembered today.

One that is deserving of a mention, however, is Clive Richardson’s London Fantasia. This piece was originally written about the composer’s home town of Coventry, but as it came together, it became evident that it would apply better to London (or perhaps that’s what his music publisher thought). The piece was extremely successful at the time, with no less than three versions at the top of the sales lists simultaneously, although it is never heard today. It portrays, in music, a day in the life of a great city: we hear the bustle and life in the streets and hints of familiar street-vendors’ cries… and then in a particularly eerie string arrangement (which caused some consternation at the time), we hear the air-raid sirens sound and the city undergoes an aerial bombardment. After the ‘All Clear’, life resumes. The version we will be playing has the composer at the piano and is the one in which this chilling musical effect is best heard.

From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life, and today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin.

You can listen to the programme now at http://music.radioriel.org — the ideal URL to plug into your home parcel media address in-world — or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player. (If you want to listen off-world, eg in Winamp or iTunes, and the above address doesn’t work for you, click here.)

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