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Vaughan Williams: "Folk Song Suite"

August 25, 2010

Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst are in many ways kindred spirits in the world of classical music and especially band music. Both were English composers fascinated with English folk song and both of them wrote multiple pieces for military band that have become staples of the wind band repertoire. Today's blog post will focus on Vaughan Williams's "Folk Song Suite." Below you can find program notes and a recording.

 

English Folk Song Suite-Wikipedia page

 

The program notes below are from the Claremont Winds although the Wikipedia site above is much more thorough.

 

British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams is one of the most eminent of 20th-century composers. He has been credited with establishing a "new nationalist style based on English folk traditions." He systematically rejected foreign Romantic influences and sought inspiration from native material, including Elizabethan and Jacobean music as well as English folk songs. He began collecting traditional folk songs from the counties of Somerset and Norfolk in 1902, and ultimately collected more than 800. Adapting their modal harmonies and striking rhythms, he created an entirely individual style. This suite, written in the early 1920s, blends his own ideas with well-known folk songs. He also composed nine symphonies and four operas and was active with amateur music groups, conducting and composing for choirs, brass bands and film.

 

English Folk Song Suite, I. March "Seventeen Come Sunday"

English Folk Song Suite, II. Intermezzo "My Bonny Boy"

English Folk Song Suite, III. March "Folk Songs from Somerset"

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