From the Library: The Light Programme

This mon­th’s show in our Light Pro­gramme series, show­cas­ing 20th Cen­tu­ry British Light Music, today fea­tures (with a good many oth­er com­posers) the work of the mul­ti-tal­ent­ed William Alwyn (1905–1985). As well as a com­pos­er, Alwyn was an accom­plished artist and poet and was at one time prin­ci­pal flautist of the LSO. As a com­pos­er, Alwyn was essen­tial­ly from the late Roman­tic line of com­posers, writ­ing in the same vein as William Wal­ton.
Alwyn was per­haps best known for his film scores, of which he wrote over 70 between the war years and 1962. His clas­sic scores includ­ed Odd Man Out, Desert Vic­to­ry, Fires Were Start­ed, The His­to­ry of Mr Pol­ly, The Fall­en Idol, The Black Tent and The Crim­son Pirate. Until recent­ly, these scores were not avail­able on record, but now quite a few are out on CD, thanks large­ly to the work of Philip Lane, who has recon­struct­ed the scores from the orig­i­nal film sound­tracks as writ­ten scores were often lost. You can read about some of his work here. In addi­tion to Alwyn, Lane has worked on film music by anoth­er of our favourite com­posers here on The Light Pro­gramme, Richard Addin­sell. You’ll hear film scores from both com­posers today, often per­formed under the baton of Gavin Suther­land.
In addi­tion to Alwyn’s film scores, we’ll hear his Eliz­a­bethan Dances, a set of six dance pieces writ­ten for the Coro­na­tion of Queen Eliz­a­beth II — which alter­nate between mod­ern styles and those of the first Eliz­a­bethan peri­od — and his impres­sive Fes­ti­val March, com­mis­sioned for the Fes­ti­val of Britain, held on Lon­don’s South Bank from May 1951. An artist’s impres­sion of the Fes­ti­val appears above, and you can watch a pub­lic infor­ma­tion film on the Fes­ti­val at the Nation­al Archives site here — which is accom­pa­nied by Alwyn’s Fes­ti­val March. The Fes­ti­val show­cased British inven­tion and was intend­ed to pro­vide a “ton­ic to the nation”. It was attend­ed by over 8.5 mil­lion peo­ple between May and Sep­tem­ber 1951.
From the Library is pro­duced in con­junc­tion with the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium, and today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. For more about the work of the Con­sor­tium, please click here. You can lis­ten to today’s pro­gramme on our Main Stream as fol­lows:
If you want to have the Radio Riel Main Stream play­ing on your par­cel, please set the media music URL to:
If you want to lis­ten off-world, sim­ply click here.
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