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Ralph Vaughan Williams - English Folk Song Suite

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Published on May 23, 2012

This is an orchestral transcription by Gordon Jacob of the original piece and was performed by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner.

1. March: Seventeen Come Sunday 0:00
2. Intermezzo: My Bonny Boy 3:21
3. March: Folk Songs from Somerset 6:40

Written in 1923, the English Folk Song Suite is one of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams's most famous works for military band. Although it is commonly known by the title given above, it was actually published as "Folk Song Suite" - the title which is used on the score and parts. In 1924, the piece was arranged for full orchestra and later for brass band by Vaughan Williams' student Gordon Jacob, when the longer title was used, presumably with the composer's approval. It follows that performances and recordings by orchestras always use the later title, but those by wind bands as often use the original, shorter, title, even though bandsmen regularly talk of the "English Folk Song Suite".

The suite consists of three movements: March, Intermezzo and another March. The first march is called Seventeen Come Sunday, the Intermezzo is subtitled My Bonny Boy and the final movement is based on four Folk Songs from Somerset. Its premiere was given at Kneller Hall on July 4, 1923, conducted by Lt Hector Adkins. It originally had a fourth movement, Sea Songs, which was played second, but the composer removed it after the first performance and published it separately (interestingly, this included an orchestration by the composer himself, not one by Gordon Jacob).

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