Oct. 22: Folk Tunes and Toons

By Ray Brown

Today's 4:00 request is from Kirk Companion of Acton for the English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Suite was written in 1923 and was one of his first compositions for wind ensemble. The first movement is a march whose principal tune is the song Seventeen Come Sunday. The words to this tune were first published in the 1840s:

As I walked out on a May morning, on a May morning so early,
I overtook a pretty fair maid just as the day was a-dawning.

With a rue-rum-ray, fol-the-diddle-day,

Her eyes were bright and her stockings white, and her buckling shone like silver,
She had a dark a rolling eye, and her hair hung over her shoulder.

Where are you going, my pretty fair maid? Where are you going, my honey?
She answered me right cheerfully, I've an errand for my mummy.

How old are you, my pretty fair maid? How old are you, my honey?
She answered me right cheerfully, I'm seventeen come Sunday.

Will you take a man, my pretty fair maid? Will you take a man, my honey?
She answered me right cheerfully, Ooh, I dare not for my mummy.

But if you come round to my mummy's house, when the moon shines bright and clearly,
I will come down and let you in, and my mummy shall not hear me.

So I went down to her mummy's house, when the moon shone bright and clearly,
She did come down and let me in, and I lay in her arms till morning.

So, now I have my soldier-man, and his ways they are quite winning.
The drum and fife are my delight, and a pint of rum in the morning.

Other tunes heard in this movement are Pretty Caroline (the 19th century broadside ballad, that is -- Neil Diamond has nothing to do with it) and Dives and Lazarus (a tune Vaughan Williams would later revisit in his 1939 composition Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus.)

The second movement, titled "Intermezzo," incorporates the tunes My Bonny Boy and Green Rushes. The third movement is another March, this one subtitled "Folk Songs from Somerset." In this movement you can hear the tunes "Blow away the morning dew," "High Germany," "The Trees so High" and "John Barleycorn."

The program will begin with "The Queen's Jigg," a tune from The Dancing Master (10th Edition), published in 1698 by John Playford, played in the manner in which it would usually have been heard to accompany English country dancing by a trio of violin, Irish harp and cittern (a metal-strung chordal instrument, kind of the banjo of 17th-century England.) Other folk-influenced music on today's program includes Kodaly's Dances of Galanta, Ravel's Bolero, Haydn's "Gypsy" Piano Trio, and a very unique performance of Telemann's Grillensymphonie performed by Montreal's Ensemble Caprice, in which they precede the work with their arrangements of authentic Slovakian gypsy folk melodies that inspired Telemann.

Also on this program we'll get ready for tomorrow's Cartoon Festival in Symphony Hall by playing Carl Stalling's soundtrack to the 1956 Warner Brothers cartoon The High and the Flighty (featuring Foghorn Leghorn). While Stalling's music perfectly matches the visual zaniness, it's also amazing music in its own right.  Check it out:

We'll tie the two strands of today's programming together with a rendition of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2, used in numerous classic cartoons, as played by the Hohner Accordion Symphony Orchestra. You'll just have to tune in to hear what that sounds like.


Here are the 4:00 requests for next week:

Monday: from David of London, UK - Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto no. 5; Jascha Heifetz/New Symphony Orchestra of London/Malcolm Sargent
Tuesday: from Wendy of Jarretaderas, Mexico - Poulenc: Pastourelle; Orchestre National de France/Charles Dutoit
Wednesday: from Lucas - Paul Ben-Haim: Three Songs without Words (recorded live in Fraser Performance Studio 9/15/2010) Zina Schiff/Dina Vainshtein
Thursday: from Margaret: Bizet/Shchedrin: Carmen Ballet; Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra/Gennady Rozhdestvensky

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