Conducted by the Rev.
R. D. RICHARDSON , B.A. (of Stourport)
Relayed from the Cathedral, Birmingham
Order of Service :
Hymn, ' Jesu, the very thought of Thee ' (English
Hymnal, No. 419)
Address Hymn, ' Lead, Kindly Light' (English Hymnal,
Mr. F. DUNHILL (Organist and Choirmaster)
THE BIRMINGHAM MILITARY BAND
Conducted by W. A. CLARIKE HARDY WILLIAMSON (Tenor)
KLARI LENART (Violin)
SAINT-SAENS composed this March in honour of his friend the painter, Henri Regnault , who was killed during the Siege of Paris in 1871. It is not, however, a Funeral March; its name indicates quite clearly the composer's intention, and it does indeed embody something of triumph and exultation. Scholarly composer though he was, Saint-Saens could write thoroughly popular tunes when he chose, and this March is rich in good-going melodies.
There is a very short introduction and then woodwinds play the first main tune in which the whole band soon joins. A slower section follows with a new tune ; the tenor trombone plays it first. There is a return of the opening music and then a quicker section brings the March to an end.
ONE of the best-known of Handel's smaller pieces is the Air and Variations composed originally for the harpsichord, with the name ' The Harmonious Blacksmith.' For generations it was a matter of common belief that the tune had actually been suggested to Handel by the sound of a blacksmith's hammer ringing on the anvil, and until quite recently they used to point out to visitors the actual smithy, not far from London, where the tune had its birth. The modern historian, in his ruthless search after hard, cold truth, caring nothing for the picturesque and kindly traditions which he may shatter or sweep aside, tells us that there is no foundation for the story. Nor does he offer any explanation of how it grew up round the piece and was believed for so many generations. It matters but little, to be sure, how the tune occurred to Handel; it is a thoroughly good melody, in his happiest vein, and the variations follow on it in the most natural way in the world. It is one of these pieces which suffers nothing, and indeed often gains, by arrangement for a team of instruments instead of being played simply on the keyboard as Handel first intended.
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