Structural Pluralism in Gerald Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain

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Natalie Burton

Abstract

The genre of song cycle is complex and heterogeneous. As well as attracting significant contention in relation to matters of typology, the inherent aesthetic issues that arise from any intermedial union of words and music are compounded in the potential narrative consequences of the song cycle. Advocating melopoetic practices, my research seeks to examine the different cycle structures that emerge within the twentieth-century, English repertory. Gerald Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain, composed in 1936, has a somewhat ambiguous genesis and complex history in performance and publication. This article explores the work’s potential to be characterized by structural pluralism; that is, the possibility that there may be more than one way of understanding and navigating the cycle’s structure. The genre of song cycle is complex and heterogeneous. As well as attracting significant contention in relation to matters of typology, the inherent aesthetic issues that arise from any intermedial union of words and music are compounded in the potential narrative consequences of the song cycle. Advocating melopoetic practices, my research seeks to examine the different cycle structures that emerge within the twentieth-century, English repertory. Gerald Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain, composed in 1936, has a somewhat ambiguous genesis and complex history in performance and publication. This article explores the work’s potential to be characterized by structural pluralism; that is, the possibility that there may be more than one way of understanding and navigating the cycle’s structure.

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Author Biography

Natalie Burton, Open University

I am a PhD Student within the Music Department at The Open Unviersity. My research is interdisciplinary, bringing together my interests in music and poetry in the genre of song cycle. Advocating melopoetic practices, my work seeks to examine the different song cycle structures that emerge within the twentieth-century, English repertory.

References

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  2. Banfield, Stephen, Sensibility and English Song (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
  3. —— Gerald Finzi: An English Composer (London: Faber & Faber, 2009)
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