From the Library: The Immortal Hour — Classical Folk & Faery

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by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 9 January, 2010

Today we present a multi‐faceted entertainment of words and music on Radio Riel’s Main Stream, but with a central theme: different aspects of British folklore and tradition, with a slight leaning toward the neo‐pagan.

Musically throughout the day we will be focusing on British composers well‐known for their settings of traditional folk tunes and songs, including Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Frederic Delius.

Then at 6am SLT (14:00 GMT) we will broadcast a unique piece of British opera: The Immortal Hour by noted English socialist composer Rutland Boughton (1878–1960), who died 50 years ago this month (on the 25th to be precise).

Virtually forgotten today, this work, based on a play by Fiona MacLeod (a pen‐name of writer William Sharp), was extraordinarily popular for over a decade following its first performance at the (original) Glastonbury Festival, held in the Assembly Rooms of that unique Somerset town in August 1914. It went on to set a record as the longest‐running opera in London (1922–23) and was even staged in New York City in 1926.

Says Wikipedia:

The Immortal Hour is a fairy tale or fairy opera, with a mood and theme similar to Dvo?ák’s Rusalka and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Magic and nature spirits play important roles in the storyline. The Faery people are not mischievous, childlike sprites, but are proud and powerful: immortal demigods who are feared by mortals and who can (and do) interfere with the lives of men and women. The story of Eochaidh is typical of myths (like that of Icarus) where humans seek the divine and are destroyed by it. Alternatively, the progression of Etain into the mortal realm and her pursuit and redemption by Midir has similarities with the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.

In this work, Boughton combined Wagnerian approaches to musical themes and symbolism with a folk‐like modal approach to the music itself, reflective of the Celtic origins of the tale.”

To learn more about Boughton’s magnificent and now sadly seldom‐remembered music, please visit the Rutland Boughton Music Trust. There are also several events this month to celebrate his life.

We will also be playing a complete reading of The Wind In The Willows starting at 10am SLT (see separate entry).

From the Library is produced in conjunction with the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life, and today’s programme was produced by Elrik Merlin. You can listen to the program now at .

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in‐world.


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