Music and Vision homepage




RODERIC DUNNETT writes about landscape and music


<< Continued from last week

The fusing of landscape, words and music was the key to Gurney's artistic personality. Everywhere -- in letters, essays and (by implication) in his compositions -- he enthused about his adopted Buckinghamshire with the same spirit, love, bravado and sense of personal identification which he employed in describing his native Gloucestershire. The countryside around High Wycombe -- Penn, Totteridge, Winchbottom (near Marlow) and the by turns wooded and rolling open country meandering away towards Missenden, Princes Risborough and Beaconsfield -- like rural France and above all his beloved Cotswolds -- gave him the inspiration which he converted wholesale into melody and harmony, as he believed Bach and Beethoven had before him :

'It is a delectable land all this, with changing soils in the valley and a happy air of peace over all. I am going out to see these all once again -- with two sketchbooks and my little Bible-looking certes, but if one may not walk a four miles or so in this land, afterwards to drink friendly in an inn, then where?'

One can easily imagine Gurney emerging, notebook in hand, pencil in pocket, turning up off the London Road and trudging his way up the steep rural lane to Penn, watching the kites fly on Penn Street Common, or sauntering along the valley towards the Old Plough or the George and Dragon below West Wycombe hill, fort-topped like his beloved Cotswolds; or else, humming his new Whitman song past Radnage and along Bledlow Ridge, winding down the Chiltern edge ('A superb little thing, not large but very fine'), making for Chinnor, or for Speen, the Hampdens and Princes Risborough, and pausing for a half of Brakespeare's at the Cherry Tree at Kingston Blount or a pint at the Pink and Lily in Lacey Green, where Rupert Brooke had signed the visitors' book, and a delighted Gurney -- who composed half a dozen still unpublished songs (potentially, as Richard Carder has suggested, a cycle) to Brooke's words -- followed suit.

Continue >>

Copyright © 24 July 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK






 << Music & Vision home           Bruckner Symphonies >>