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Art music and Welsh identity

Jones, Nicholas ORCID: 2022. Art music and Welsh identity. Presented at: 58th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association, Durham, UK, 8-10 September 2022.

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In her 1973 article provocatively titled ‘How Welsh is Welsh Music?’, Grace Williams made the following rather quirky observation: ‘When I am asked for my views on national influences in Welsh music I am reminded of the story of the centipede who, when asked which foot he put down first, got so confused he couldn’t walk at all.’ This paper explores the contested and problematic notion of ‘Welshness’ and the different ways in which this ‘elusive quality’ (to quote William Mathias) can influence the composition of art music. It is argued that the music written by Welsh composers during the period under discussion cannot reasonably be considered without reference to these composers’ relationship to their own cultural identity and environment. Indeed, Wales and its culture, its history, its traditions and legends, its language and literature, its landscapes and sense of place, exerted, and continues to exert, a strong gravitational pull on these composers – even for those who have consciously looked beyond Wales for stylistic inspiration and models on which to base their own compositional technique. Whilst representative examples are offered to illustrate the issues, discussion focuses primarily on three women composers – Grace Williams, Hilary Tann and Rhian Samuel.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2023 10:30

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