20C English Music Renaissance

Ref: C2225502

The beginning of the 20th.century saw a flourishing of English music that had not been seen for over 100 years. Not only the big three - Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams - but many others added to the riches that appeared in orchestral, vocal, choral and chamber music of the period. This course will study in some depth this English musical renaissance, starting in 1899 with Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and tracing its development through the time of Edward VII, World War I, and George V, culminating in 1934 with the deaths of Elgar, Holst and Delius. Well-known works will be studied in detail, as well as an exploration of the lesser-known repertoire. It is hoped that students will end the course with a wider musical knowledge of this period and a desire to explore further this vast treasury of English music. Each session will include many audio/video extracts for listening enjoyment and discussion.

Course aim

This course explores the magnificent outpouring of English music during the first part of the 20th.century, with a view to further exploration of selected composers and their output.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Beginners will be introduced to some of England's greatest music. Improvers will value the in-depth studies and discussions of selected works.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Name at least six composers who lived and worked in England at the beginning of the 20th.century, and name one work of each of these.
  • Discuss how the English countryside, seascape, and folksong influenced the music of certain composers, naming relevant examples.
  • Describe in some detail the background and musical structure of at least one major English work composed during this period.
  • Give an overview of the 20th.century English musical renaissance.
  • Reflect upon, and discuss, personal reactions to music heard during the course.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Pre-reading could include background information on the lives of Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full course information sheet

20C English Music Renaissance


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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