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

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 http://main.radioriel.org .

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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