From the Library — Three English Composers

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Tuesday, 10 June, 2008

Today’s programme features the work of three well-known English composers of the first half of the 20th century or so: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius.

Ralph (pronounced “Rafe”) Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) is one of Britain’s best-loved composers, and one who is at last becoming more widely recognised as a truly great figure in the world of music. 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death, and we are playing performances of many of his best-known works along with some that will be less familiar.

No-one could be regarded as more ‘English’ than Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934). We will be playing a selection of his works, some well-known – such as the Pomp and Circumstance Marches – and some much more seldom heard, including the Nursery Suite, which British listeners with long memories might possibly remember as being played on commercial television on 1960s afternoons between Schools programmes. Included in the programme today is a performance of the latter conducted by Sir Edward himself. You will also hear the magnificent Enigma Variations – the original theme to which remains a mystery to this day – and a wide selection of other works by the composer.

Frederick Albert Theodore Delius (1862–1934) was born in Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the north of England. Delius’s musical style is characterized by a curious mixture of pentatonic figures and chromaticism, although still largely tonal, it reflects a move from the post-romanticism of the years following the death of Richard Wagner (1883) to a style that was unique to Delius, blending Impressionism with the slightly older post-romanticism and northern European and African-American folk idioms. His use of luscious harmonies — mainly slow moving, and constantly evolving melody, with the frequent use of leitmotifs — is what prompted Sir Thomas Beecham to describe him as “the last great apostle of romantic beauty in music.”

In addition we will be playing a few pieces from other British composers of the same period such as Gustav Holst and Sir Arthur Bliss – including the latter’s suite Things to Come, based on his music for William Cameron Menzies’ 1936 film adaptation of HG Wells’ book The Shape of Things to Come.

From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life, to inform, educate and entertain. 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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