• 1110/1000/str
  • 7 min

Programme Note

E. J. Moeran's formative years were spent in the Norfolk village where his father was vicar. He heard much genuine folksong there and this, together with the scenery and folk-music of Ireland, formed the basis of his musical thought. For three years Moeran studied with John Ireland who encouraged him to continue as a composer and helped him to develop his harmonic sense. Moeran's music first gained public recognition in 1924 when Sir Hamilton Harty played the first orchestral Rhapsody at a Hallé concert in Manchester.

As a result of Moeran's friendship with Warlock, van Dieren and others, he began to concentrate on song writing but in 1930 retired to the Cotswolds for a period of further study. It was during this time that he composed the Two Pieces for Small Orchestra - 'Whythorne's Shadow' and 'Lonely Waters', the first based on a song by the Elizabethan composer Thomas Whythorne and the second on a Norfolk folksong. The last sixteen years of his life were spent in Ireland where he produced a considerable number of large works including the Symphony (1937), Rhapsody for piano and orchestra (1943) and Serenade (1948). In 1945 he married the cellist Peers Coetmore and this led to the composition of two large-scale works for the cello - a Concerto (1945) and a Sonata (1947).

Whythorne's Shadow is a short work in one movement, Andantino comodo, scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and strings. To use Moeran's own words: 'The nature of the work cannot be better expounded than by quoting the poem of Whythorne's song'.

As thy shadow itself apply'th
To follow thee whereso thou go,
And when thou bends, itself it wry'th,
Turning as thou both to and fro:
The flatterer doth even so,
And shopes himself the same to gloze,
With many a fawning and gay show,
Whom he would frame for his purpose.

Programme note © 1969 David Davies


Moeran: Whythorne's Shadow