From the Library — Three English Composers

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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