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English Song treasures now available as Boosey & Hawkes downloads

(October 2015)

The Boosey & Hawkes Digital Store has expanded to include over 150 English Songs, with many treasures from the archive returned to availability. Featured composers include Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Gurney, Ireland, Bridge, Warlock, Quilter and Head.

Boosey & Hawkes enjoyed a close publishing relationship with the leading English Song composers during the golden half-century between 1900 and 1950, both through its own composer list and the publications drawn in through the Winthrop Rogers catalogue. The publishing archive has long been a treasure trove of vocal gems and an extensive selection has been brought back to the light with over 150 songs now available as sheet downloads via the Boosey & Hawkes Digital Music Store.

This important catalogue of 20th century songs is now available to customers worldwide with instant download and printing via your computer at an attractive price of £2.50. Each purchase on the Digital Music Store is fully protected through a secure payment facility and customer service back-up is provided. A preview of each selected item is viewable on screen prior to purchase. Extensive search facilities are available for those researching music for concert performance or exploration at home. The Boosey & Hawkes Digital Music store offers over 1800 publications from the Boosey & Hawkes catalogue together with selected downloads from other publishers.

> Visit the English Song collection 

The English Song collection from Boosey & Hawkes shows the profound influence of the First World War and is an important historical source for those preparing recital programmes and recordings to commemorate the wartime anniversaries. The conflict had a devastating personal impact on a generation of composers and poets, through tragic loss of life, traumatic experiences on the battlefield, or the need to rebuild creativity in the years that followed. Ample evidence of these struggles appears in words as well as music, combined together in the output of Ivor Gurney. The County Mayo was composed just before the end of the war whilst Gurney was in hospital, while Come, O come, my life’s delight, a successor to Sleep and Spring, was one of the last songs that Gurney composed before his illness intensified and he spent the last 15 years of his life in hospital. John Ireland’s two songs from 1916 - Blind and The Cost - are settings of poems from Eric Thirkell Cooper’s Soliloquies of a Subaltern Somewhere in France (1915). Like Gurney, Cooper was a war poet who survived the conflict.

The song collection on the Digital Store returns over 30 vocal items by Michael Head to the catalogue, as well as focusing on items that are not available in the printed albums of his music, revealing the range of his art beyond the familiar The Little Road to Bethlehem and The Singer. Highlights to explore include his Milton setting Hail, Bounteous May and the Hardy settings that form More Songs of the Countryside, as well as religious settings like Belovèd, Let Us Love One Another. The complete song cycle Over the rim of the moon, including The Ships of Arcady and A Blackbird Singing, is available digitally for the first time. This cycle was composed in 1918 during Head’s wartime service in a munitions factory and features poetry by Francis Ledwidge who had been killed in action near Ypres in 1917.

The composers featured in the English Song collection who outlived the battlefield also sought to reconnect with life before the war, often summoning up rural impressions of the countryside with texts emphasising a lost idyll set in a timeless landscape recalling a simpler agrarian existence. While much of this may seem folk imbued and bucolic, twentieth century composers also sought to bring classic poetry to life in music, utilizing Britain’s greatest cultural export from earlier centuries. As well as familiar texts from Shakespeare’s plays, the collection includes settings of Hardy, Tennyson, Stevenson, Herbert, and Milton.

The song collection includes a number of familiar vocal items now available in alternative keys to suit a range of vocal tessituras. These include songs from Ralph Vaughan Williams's Songs of Travel, Edward Elgar's In the Dawn, Peter Warlock's As ever I saw and Eric Coates's Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred.

A further selection of songs from the Boosey & Hawkes archive is planned for release on the Digital Store in Spring 2016.





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