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A Yank's appreciation of British music


I have felt drawn to the music of the British Isles for many years, though know only a fraction of its wealth. It has an identity all of its own, and is not reliant on outside influences. It speaks universally. One reason why there is not a broad enough spectrum of this music performed in the USA is because the majority of foreign works which first influenced American composition was the same Germanic repertoire that formed the cornerstone across the ocean.

Man has the habit of being too inclusive. Then there are the stereotypes formed in many minds. Stereotypes are common in all parts of the world, some, for instance, associated with English culture being stuffy, cold, understated, and other such idiocies. They are no more true than that all Americans are ignorant, crass and greedy. We can take certain terminology and place under a different light. 'Stuffy' becomes 'regal', 'cold' warms to 'objective', and 'understated' simply means 'subtle'.

If we look at the quintessential Victorian Elgar, one cannot ignore the broad, leisurely-paced measures of nobility which infuse much of his music.

But there is another Elgar which is found in the ebullience of the Cockaigne Overture and 'Nursery Suite', the wise humour of Falstaff, or the ecstacy of The Dream of Gerontius.

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Copyright © 2 January 2001 Richard Krause, Fort Worth, USA




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