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Ivor Gurney (1880-1937)

Spring Text by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Spring! The sweet Spring!

Ivor Gurney (1880-1937)


Ivor Gurney's tragically curtailed career robbed England of a huge compositional talent that was set to reach high artistic maturity. His war-time experiences left him too scarred to develop further as a composer and we can now only speculate as to what he might have produced had he lived in full mental health. A poet as well as composer, Gurney's songs display all of the hallmarks of great art song composing: from sensitive choice of poetry and naturalness of musical setting, through to the ability to present the singer with a work which demands interpretive powers of a high degree. Although his songs appear to revel in a pure English folk vein, they have, in fact, more in common with the German lied (art song) tradition of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Wolf in their close musical examination of the texts.

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