Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Reason To Migrate

British composer Gustav Holst quite possibly wouldn't have approved:

Neither might Diana, Princess of Wales.

'We wish England was Australia' is, in fact, I Vow To Thee, My Country, one of Diana's favourite hymns, performed at her wedding and funeral.

The lyrics started life as a 1908 poem by diplomat Cecil Spring-Rice. The tune is a hymnal called Thaxted which Holst adapted from a section of the Jupiter movement in his 1914-16 composition The Planets Suite.

I Vow To Thee, My Country is now a patriotic staple of Armistice Day and regularly arouses the ire of milksop Anglican dhimmis such as The Bishop of Hulme, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, who:

... said the hymn's popularity was a symptom of a "dangerous" increase in English nationalism which had parallels with the rise of Nazism. Its associations with the British empire were also questionable in a multi-faith, multi-cultural society.
Holst probably wouldn't have approved of the Right Rev Steve either.

And one can imagine knee-jerk feminists might choke on hearing Holst's requirement for performances of The Planets that:

For "Neptune", two three-part women's choruses, located in an adjoining room which is to be screened from the audience, are required.
Why? Not because Holst was a misogynist but because he was a musical visionary:

"Neptune" was the first piece of music to have a fade-out ending. Holst stipulates that the women's choruses are "to be placed in an adjoining room, the door of which is to be left open until the last bar of the piece, when it is to be slowly and silently closed", and that the final bar (scored for choruses alone) is "to be repeated until the sound is lost in the distance".

Although commonplace today, the effect bewitched audiences in the era before widespread recorded sound - after the initial 1918 run-through, Holst's daughter Imogen (in addition to watching the charwomen dancing in the aisles during "Jupiter") remarked that the ending was "unforgettable, with its hidden chorus of women's voices growing fainter and fainter... until the imagination knew no difference between sound and silence".
-- Nick

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