Music in Great Britain
The British have not been regarded as a particularly musical people and, from the end of the 17th century until the 20th century, there were relatively few British composers of international renown.
Before the 16th century, musical life was centred on the church, especially the cathedrals and the royal chapels. The choral works of John Taverner, William Byrd and Thomas Tallis are still performed today, most notably by the choirs of King's College, Cambridge and Christ Church in Oxford. Secular music in the 16th century included the instrumental work of William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons and the madrigals of Gibbons and Thomas Morley.
Henry Purcell, famous for his opera Dido and Aeneaf (1689), has been described as the last great English composer before the 20th century. John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), is still occasionally performed, and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan are among the few 19th century British works that are still part of the repertoire.
The 20th century saw a renaissance in British music with the work of composers such as Delius, Hoist, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Tippett, Maxwell Davies and Britten. Britten in particular came to be regarded as a specially "English" composer, partly through the English themes of several of his operas but also through the folk songs and church music that provided the inspiration for many of his other works.
There is now a flourishing musical life in Britain with more people going to concerts than ever before. The BBC plays an important part in the development of music both by commissioning new work and by supporting orchestras. The BBC Radio 3 programme, which is broadcast throughout the day and evening, is devoted mainly to music. Many British orchestras and musical groups have an international reputation. They include the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and others. Famous choirs include the Bach Choir and the Royal Choral Society. Music festivals held annually include those at Bath and Aldeburgh, and the Three Choirs Festival, held at Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester in turn. The popular series of Promenade Concerts held every summer in the Royal Albert Hall, London, are broadcast by the BBC.
At a more modest level, almost all schools and colleges have an orchestra, and many towns have a choral society. Music in the home is more likely to be listened to than played, but many homes have a piano.
1. Were there many British composers of international renown before the 20th century?
2. What was musical life centred on before the 16th century?
3. What happened with British music in 20th century?
4. What is Britten famous for?
5. What role does the BBC play in the development of music?
6. What famous British orchestras and choirs do you know?
secular — мирской, светский
inspiration — вдохновение
flourishing — процветающий
to be devoted — быть посвященным
choir — хор
annually — ежегодно
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