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‘Flowers to Fair’: A Shropshire Lad’s Legacy of Song

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Abstract

The musical settings of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad have been discussed in print on several occasions, notably by William White,1 A. V. Butcher2 and Stephen Banfield,3 while Gooch and Thatcher have listed all known settings, published and in manuscript, up to 1975.4 In this essay, therefore, I shall be brief on what, and concentrate on why, and conclude with detailed consideration of the most important settings, particularly the songcycles of Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth and John Ireland.

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  • Musical Treatment
  • Musical Time
  • Song Lyric
  • Final Phrase
  • String Quartet

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I hoed and trenched and weeded And took the flowers to fair: I brought them home unheeded; The hue was not the wear.

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Notes

  1. A. E. Housman and Music’, Music and Letters, 24 (1943) 208–19.

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  2. A. E. Housman and the English Composer’, Music and Letters, 29 (1948) 329–39.

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  3. Grant Richards, Housman, 1897–1936 (OUP London: Humphrey Milford, 1941) p. 54.

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  4. K. E. Symons, Correspondence ‘A. E. Housman and Music’, Music and Letters, 25 (1944) 60–1.

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  5. Percy Withers, A Buried Life: Personal Recollections of A. E. Housman (London: Jonathan Cape, 1940) pp. 82–3.

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  6. Percy Withers, ‘A. E. Housman: Personal Recollections’, The New Statesman and Nation, n.s. 9 (9 May 1936) 700–1.

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  7. Cecil Day-Lewis, ‘Introduction’, A Book of English Lyrics (London: Chatto and Windus, 1961) p. 11.

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  8. A. H. Fox Strangways, ‘Ralph Vaughan Williams’, in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, II (Oxford: OUP, 1929) pp. 584–6.

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  9. See Vaughan Williams’ ‘A Musical Autobiography’, in National Music and Other Essays (London: OUP, 1963) p. 191.

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  10. Edwin Evans, ‘English Song and On Wenlock Edge’, Musical Times, 59 (1918) 249.

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  11. Peter Pirie, ‘Introduction’, Eleven Songs from ’A Shropshire Lad’ (London: Stainer and Bell, 1974).

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© 2000 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Hold, T. (2000). ‘Flowers to Fair’: A Shropshire Lad’s Legacy of Song. In: Holden, A.W., Birch, J.R. (eds) A. E. Housman. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62279-5_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62279-5_7

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

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