Being in the English countryside can provide numerous positive feelings for people, be it relaxation, happiness, or creativity. When it comes to the aforementioned creativity, that certainly applies to various musical masterpieces over the years. We aren’t referring to the likes of The Bloodhound Gang here either, more the classical composers many of us know and love, who felt inspired after visiting rural England.
The rolling hills of the Great British countryside can provide a great escape from city life but also allow the creative thinkers among us – be it artists or musicians – to immerse themselves in nature and add another dimension to their composition. With city life, for example, the manic mood and endless chaos around can hinder creativity. People in London are constantly in a rush, the trains are packed with commuters listening to music and checking the options in the United Kingdom for all types of gaming, plus the traffic is endless. The perfect ingredients for stifling a creative mind. To unlock it and provide some inspiration moving forward, the choice for many musicians is the English countryside.
We’ve heard of countless bands over the years who have hidden away in a remote studio for a few weeks or months, desperate to get their album done. Queen did it, for example. Several classical musicians have also, as the picturesque beauty of England’s rural way of life left them feeling inspired. But who are they? Here’s a look at a few pieces of classical music which were said to be inspired by the English countryside.
Enigma Variations – Elgar
A delightful composition which is dedicated to one of Elgar’s family or friends, the theme running throughout this masterpiece is Elgar’s passion for the English countryside and, more specifically, the Malvern Hills, where he is said to have spent a lot of downtime with family and friends, which resulted in what can only be described as a classical hit following numerous visits there. The River Wye is also featured in one of the variations of the track. Stunning.
(Image via https://twitter.com/themalvernhills)
Sumer is Icumen In – Unknown
Written in the mid-13th century, this show of appreciation to the English summer is an oldie, but it’s certainly still a goodie. A medieval round, Sumer is Icumen In features a dialect from Wessex which is deemed Middle English, therefore making the text a historically fascinating read. The identity of the composer is unknown, though, although W. de Wycombe has been suggested by experts in the field as being the man behind it. Born in Hertfordshire, if it was W. de Wycombe’s composition, he was clearly in awe of nature, the animals in the spring, the billy-goats, and the cuckoos in the summer mornings.
Eclogue – Finzi
We couldn’t really leave this track by Finzi out when coming up with music inspired by the English countryside as it is pretty much the epitome of it. Despite being born in London in 1901, Finzi’s love of the English outdoors and the charming nature of our stunning countryside was evident. A celebration of the Great British landscape, Eclogue was written in the 1920s although Finzi wasn’t confident it was completely finished. In the end, Eclogue was left alone, which was the right call judging by the masterpiece that it is today.
The Lark Ascending – Vaughan Williams
A song completely dedicated to rural England, Vaughan Williams’ piece is a favourite for so many and is said to have been written in 1914, as Williams revelled in the stunning beauty which surrounded him, right before the start of the First World War. Simply beautiful.