Parts marked with as asterisk (*) are NOT ESSENTIAL, although their presence will obviously enable a fuller realization of the composer's intentions to be achieved.
Program Notes Gustav Holst did not have much success in getting his early compositions published. In 1905, he began a career as a gifted teacher when he was appointed Director of Music at St. Paul’s Girls School in Hammersmith. It was also a time when he developed the friendship of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the two developed an interest in English folk music. This became a turning point in Holst’s style as he left behind the heaviness of the Wagnerian style for the simplicity of folk melodies. Vaughan Williams wrote “we were dazzled, we wanted to preach a new gospel, we wanted to rhapsodise on these tunes just as Liszt and Grieg had done on theirs … we simply were fascinated by the tunes.” Enthusiastic archivist Cecil Sharp, of the Folk Song Society, encouraged Holst to write “Two Selections of Folk Songs” based on material Sharp had collected in the West of England. Songs of the West was the first of the pair noted as Opus 22 was written in 1906; A Somerset Rhapsody was completed the following year. The melodies in Songs of the West differ in styles, keys, and tempos. The nautical nature of the coastal region is evident in many of the melodies. Originally written for orchestra, noted composer James Curnow was commissioned in 1986 to arrange the work for concert band.