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'Les Nations' - Music with Traditional Roots from around the World.

Throughout the centuries, composers have taken inspiration from the traditional music of their home country or heritage, often arranging it or incorporating characteristics of it into their compositions. For example, we find elements of Hungarian music in the works of Brahms, and Dvorak’s music contains many references to the melodies and musical forms of Bohemia. English composers such as Britten, Holst and Vaughan Williams also based compositions upon the rich legacy of folk music within the British Isles, and, similarly, Bartók (1881-1945) often travelled into the Eastern European countryside to record and research folk melodies, which he later wove into his own music.

Bartók using a phonograph to record Slovak folk songs in Zobordarázs. (Today part of Nitra, Slovakia) 

This term we will be continuing to explore Telemann’s Suite, “Les Nations”, in which we are taken on a tour of national styles in the form of dance movements entitled Les Turcs, Les Svisses, and Les Portugais (anciens et modernes). In the movement called Les Moscovites, Telemann’s imagination takes off in a different direction and we are instead given a musical portrait of the city, complete with the ringing of bells in the Kremlin. 

Another piece which we will be playing is Deep River, which is found within Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s “24 Traditional Melodies” Op. 59. Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912) studied composition at the Royal College of Music, where his talent was recognised by Stanford and Elgar. His compositions were strongly influenced by his African heritage and it’s largely thanks to him that this beautiful melody has been written down and harmonized for us to enjoy playing today. 

There will be one further piece which we will add into our programme for the term. Which musical tradition will it have been inspired by? 

Looking forward to seeing everyone when term starts on Tuesday 23rd April, and of course, new members are always welcome to join us.  

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