Tag: England

‘Just grief, heart’s tears, plaint worthy’

By this week the UK has the highest number of deaths from the COVID-19 virus — now more than 43,000 — and the highest mortality rate per capita of all our neighbour countries in Europe. How do we mourn for so many lives lost when such vast numbers become statistics that leave us numb, tone-deaf […]

Pentecost with Tallis

For Pentecost, when the Church remembers how the followers of Jesus Christ first received the Holy Spirit, some of the best music is by Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585), the most admired English composer of the sixteenth century. He managed to pursue his long career as an organist, singer, composer and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal through […]

Feel the tears

In modern popular culture, songs of love that dwell on the pain and tears of a failed relationship are a common type. Belonging to the broad category of pop with the oddly non-modern term ‘ballads’, they are frequently released not only because they address the heartbreak of breaking up and lost love that most people […]

Imagining war

Our series on big tunes, big sounds must include one of the most emphatic tunes and most massive sounds of any devised before the age of amplification and electronics: the first movement, ‘Mars: the Bringer of War’, of The Planets, the ‘Suite for Large Orchestra’ by Gustav Holst. In its awesome beauty, this music makes […]

When lads go a-maying

Being probably the best-known English madrigal of all, Thomas Morley’s Now is the month of maying is often performed but rarely performed well (singing it with the neatness it deserves is a considerable challenge). It may seem emblematic or even a caricature of the whole madrigal genre, which in modern times has had an image […]