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Gustavus Theodore Holst

Four Songs for Voice and Violin Op. 35

Vaughan Williams introduced Holst to folk songs, which pleased and surprised him with their beauty. Cecil Sharp, the writer and folk-song collector, asked Holst to arrange a volume of Hampshire folk songs; as a result of arranging these songs, his own music became simpler and more direct.

Vaughan Williams also taught Holst about plainsong hymns, which Holst loved throughout his life. One Sunday, in an interval between church services, he heard a woman singing a wordless song as she played the open strings of her violin. This astonishing sound gave him the idea of writing "Four Songs for Voice and Violin," settings of medieval religious poems. Holst said of these songs that at last he had learned to write "a tune at one with the words."

Copyright © 1996 by Jane Erb, All Rights Reserved.