English Folk Song Suite

By Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Arranged by Gordon Jacobs
Composed in 1924

Many of Vaughan Williams’ compositions incorporate elements of folk music. This short suite was originally composed for a military band and is entirely based on English folk tunes – “Seventeen Come Sunday,” “My Bonny Boy,” and a set of folk songs from Somerset.

The suite was arranged for full orchestra by Gordon Jacobs, one of Vaughan Williams’ students and a composer in his own right. The orchestral arrangement received Vaughan Williams’ endorsement after its publication in 1924.

The two outer fast movements are sprightly, in march tempo. They evoke the British Empire at its martial zenith, with emphasis on brass and percussion. The middle movement is wistful and contemplative, with plaintive wind solos alternating with the strings.