by Liz Dunbar @HuntSchoolMusic
Vaughan Williams is probably one of the UK's best loved and best known composers. His musical language draws on the English choral tradition, the long standing craft of the art song, and the evocative compositional language of French Impressionism.
'On Wenlock Edge' (1909) is a deeply moving song cycle, based on text from A.E. Housman’s 'A Shropshire Lad'. On the eve of the First World War it's a nostalgic yearning for an idealised England, the beauty of an agricultural landscape and the joys and sorrows of normal every day folk.
The use of strings and piano to accompany the voice, rather than piano alone, opens up a wealth of timbral possibilities to bring the stories to life. From the blustery hill tops of Wenlock edge, to the symbolic bells of Bredon Hill, and the anguish and sorrow found in 'Is my team ploughing?', this is Vaughan Williams at his best.
Here's an ever evolving playlist to provide you with plenty of wider listening references to use in questions 5 and 6.