English Symphonies

walton1

Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 6
Arthur Bliss – Colour Symphony
Edward Elgar – Symphony No. 2
William Walton – Symphony No. 2
Charles Stanford – Symphony No. 6

On An English Pastorale this week, we’ll explore several symphonies by Englishman written in the 20th century.

William Walton (PHOTO) wrote his second symphony in 1959-60. The three-movement work is simpler in form than Walton’s first symphony. This middle movement is marked Lento assai and could stand on its own as a kind of nocturnal tone poem.

The Symphony No. 6 by Ralph Vaughan Williams was written at the end of the second World War. The composer’s disillusionment with the war is perhaps reflected in this work. The finale, marked “Epilogue,” is the most commented-upon by listeners and critics. While the rest of the symphony is rife with exciting passages, the finale is deathly quiet.

In A Colour Symphony, composer Arthur Bliss attempts to capture the character of certain colors through music. The last movement is entitled, “Green, the colour of Emeralds, Hope, Youth, Joy, Spring and Victory.” It is marked moderato and in a double fugue form.

Charles Stanford’s Symphony No. 6 was written in 1905. It was written in memory of a recently-deceased artist, George Frederick Watts. The symphony had two performances and was then forgotten until it was recorded in 1988 by the Ulster Orchestra.

Edward Elgar’s Symphony No.2 has no program notes but contains a dedication that reads “To the memory of His Late Majesty King Edward VII” with whom Elgar had been on friendly terms. The second movement is marked Larghetto and is sorrowful in nature.

Join us for excerpts from these symphonies on An English Pastorale, Sunday morning at 9.

Leave a comment