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Folk songs published by Edward Thomas

theleveller 20 Dec 12 - 03:39 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Dec 12 - 11:45 AM
Matthew Edwards 20 Dec 12 - 02:12 PM
theleveller 20 Dec 12 - 02:38 PM
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Subject: Folk songs published by Edward Thomas
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Dec 12 - 03:39 AM

Before he began writing poetry, at the instigation of his friend Robert Frost, just two years before his death at the Battle of Arras, Edward Thomas had shown his genius in some of the most sublime prose writing about the English countryside ever created. In 'The Heart of England', a collection of essays that was first published in 1906, he includes the words and musical notation of five folk songs that he heard sung and used to sing himself on his epic walks along the roads and paths of southern England. In a note at the beginning, he writes this:

"Of the five songs printed at the end of this book, only "La Fille du Roi" has been published before, I believe. "The Holm Bank Hunting Song" and "Poor Old Horse" were sung by competitors for folk-song prizes at the annual Westmoreland Musical Festival, and I owe them to the kindness of Mr. George Rathbone. "The Mowing Song" and "Mary, come into the Field" were given to me by friends."

Does anyone know if this is correct – and what was the Westmoreland Musical Festival?


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Subject: RE: Folk songs published by Edward Thomas
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Dec 12 - 11:45 AM

Seem to have lost my post from this morning!

I said (some hours ago) that all except Mary, come into the Field, which I can't find, are genuine. Maybe someone else can verify that one.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folk songs published by Edward Thomas
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Dec 12 - 02:12 PM

I did say some seven years ago that I would add some information about The Westmorland Music Festival, but I can't now find my notes. However the article in the Rural History journal by John Francmanis about the Festival, and Frank Kidson's role in it, is well worth reading. Rather absurdly, from today's point of view, the singers in the Folk Song Competition were judged only on unpublished songs - how on earth singers were meant to know whether or not their songs had appeared in print is beyond me - but the Folk Song Society were deliberately looking for new material.

So far as I'm aware the Westmorland Music Festival, founded by Mary Wakefield, still continues on a biennial basis, but I don't think there is any folk song element.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Folk songs published by Edward Thomas
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Dec 12 - 02:38 PM

Interesting, Mathew. I did google the festival and it seems to be a classical music festival now.Once Thomas had published these songs, I presume they couldn't be used in the festival any more - I wonder if he knew that.George Rathbone, who "gave" him the songs was, of course a composer from Manchester, mostly of religious stuff.

Thomas' version of "Poor Old Horse" differs from any other version I've come across and his "Mowing Song" seems to be a verson of "One Man Went to Mow".


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