The Sea in the British Musical Imagination

December 2015
7 black and white, 68 line illustrations
306 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
Boydell Press

The Sea in the British Musical Imagination

Edited by Eric Saylor, Christopher M. Scheer

eBook for Handhelds
For centuries, the sea and those who sail upon it have inspired the imaginations of British musicians.
For centuries, the sea and those who sail upon it have inspired the imaginations of British musicians. Generations of British artists have viewed the ocean as a metaphor for the mutable human condition - by turns calm and reflective, tempestuous and destructive - and have been influenced as much by its physical presence as by its musical potential. But just as geographical perspectives and attitudes on seascapes have evolved over time, so too have cultural assumptions about their meaning and significance. Changes in how Britons have used the sea to travel, communicate, work, play, and go to war have all irresistibly shaped the way that maritime imagery has been conceived, represented, and disseminated in British music.
By exploring the sea's significance within the complex world of British music, this book reveals a network of largely unexamined cultural tropes unique to this island nation. The essays are organised around three main themes: the Sea as Landscape, the Sea as Profession, and the Sea as Metaphor, covering an array of topics drawn from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first. Featuring studies of pieces by the likes of Purcell, Arne, Sullivan, Vaughan Williams, and Davies, as well as examinations of cultural touchstones such as the BBC, the Scottish fishing industry, and the Aldeburgh Festival, The Sea in the British Musical Imagination will be of interest to musicologists as well as scholars in history, British studies, cultural studies, and English literature.

ERIC SAYLOR is Associate Professor of Musicology at Drake University.

CHRISTOPHER M. SCHEER is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Utah State University.

CONTRIBUTORS: Byron Adams, Jenny Doctor, Amanda Eubanks Winkler, James Brooks Kuykendall, Charles Edward McGuire, Alyson McLamore, Louis Niebur, Jennifer Oates, Eric Saylor, Christopher M. Scheer, Aidan J. Thomson, Justin Vickers, Frances Wilkins

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Keywords: Music

Table of Contents

Introduction - Eric Saylor and Christopher Scheer
'Britannia Rule the Waves': Maritime Music and National Identity in Eighteenth-Century Britain - Alyson McLamore
Scotland, the 'Celtic North', and the Sea: Issues of Identity in Bantock's Hebridean Symphony [1915] - Jennifer Oates
Sea Change: A Meditation upon Frank Bridge's Lament: To Catherine, Aged 9, 'Lusitania' 1915 - Byron Adams
Crosscurrents in the Britten Legacy: Two Visions of Aldeburgh - Christopher Scheer
'Come away, fellow sailors': Musical Characterisation of the Nautical Profession in Seventeenth-Century England - Amanda Eubanks Winkler
Jolly Jack Tar: Musical Caricature and Characterisation of the British Sailor, c. 1875-1925 - James Brooks Kuykendall
Fishers of Men: Maritime Radio and Evangelical Hymnody in the Scottish Fishing Industry, 1950-65 - Frances Wilkins
Amanuensis of the Sea: Peter Maxwell Davies's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 and the Antarctic Symphony - Justin Vickers
Three Journeys, Two Paths: Locating the Lyric and Dramatic in Elgar's Sea Pictures - Charles Edward McGuire
Political Visions, National Identities, and the Sea Itself: Stanford and Vaughan Williams in 1910 - Eric Saylor
Bax's 'Sea Symphony' - Aidan Thomson
'Close your eyes and listen to it': Special Sound and the Sea in BBC Radio Drama, 1957-59 - Louis Niebur
Afterword - Jenny Doctor


This varied and thought-provoking collection is the first to turn sustained musicological attention to the myriad ways in which nautical themes have conditioned...British music. MUSIC & NOTES

The subject matter is rich: numerous composers and song-writers over the centuries have treated the sea as muse, and this book covers a diverse range of types of work, from symphonies to sea shanties. [...] As the book's reference to the 'musical imagination' implies, its focus is not exclusively upon musical works and composers; rather, there are many interesting forays here into the broader musical and social contexts and practices surrounding them. [...]There is much here that is intriguing and even moving - [...] something that can rarely be said of an academic book. An additional bonus, finally, is the way in which the book's focus on less predictable repertory invites the reader to venture out on his or her own voyage of musical discovery. -- Alexandra Wilson, Oxford Brookes University