Work: English Dances (4), Op. 33
About This Work
Arnold wrote the (Op. 33) sequel to his popular first set of English Dances in 1951. Both sets were written at the suggestion of Arnold's publisher, Alfred Lengnick, who wanted some British analogs of Antonín Dvorák's Slavonic Dances.
The second set of English Dances was first performed on August 5, 1952, at one of the famous Henry Wood Promenade Concerts; Sir Malcolm Sargent conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
The Allegro non troppo that begins the second set is the most extended of the eight English Dances. It opens with a rollicking tune in the woodwinds (at least in the orchestral version of the Dances; in the alternative arrangement for brass band, the tune is whistled by the band members in the style of Arnold's famous use of the "Colonel Bogey" theme in his score for the film The Bridge Over the River Kwai). The first dance also introduces a more imposing second theme, and a stirring third melody in horns and strings. The second dance, marked Con brio, features an almost jig-like melody in a light 6/8 rhythm; a more aggressive middle section, complete with snare drum, has a military feeling. The third dance is a laid-back, waltz-like Grazioso. And the final dance features a lively opening theme, another military interlude at its center, and a grand augmented version of the opening idea, with swirling strings in the background, as its rousing finale.
-- Chris Morrison
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