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Postcard from London

London – a multi-cultural melting pot, whose sights, sounds and populace have provided inspiration to composers from Henry Purcell to Ralph Vaughan Williams, Handel to Hendrix. Birthplace of Thomas Arne, York Bowen, George Butterworth, Ethel Smyth, Kaikhosru Sorabji and many more; home to Haydn, Holst, Bridge, Ireland and others, London is celebrated in music, from pieces written for the royal court to works which evoke London's landmarks and street scenes, its places and people.Read more…

London has always been a vibrant centre for music making, and its outstanding orchestras and performers continue to draw composers and musicians to the city. Haydn, who first visited London on New Year's Day in 1791, wrote a dozen richly-scored 'London' symphonies during his two visits. Mozart visited London as a young child and wrote his first symphony there as well as a clutch of charming piano miniatures. Chopin also visited London in 1848, the year before he died, where he played for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - and complained about the British weather.

Vaughan Williams' London Symphony includes the calls of street vendors and the chimes of Westminster Abbey, evokes Hampstead Heath on a Sunday afternoon, and depicts the flow of London's great river, the Thames. Eric Coates, whose London Suite pays a musical homage to various London locations, is said to have drawn inspiration for one of his marches from the distinctive red London pillar box, and he was most happy working amongst the sounds and excitement of London. Elgar's Cockaigne Overture also celebrates the vibrancy and noisy excess of London while Katherine Norman's 'London' (2012) also uses the myriad sounds of London's streetlife, including the rattle and hiss of the Underground, to create a vivid portrait of everyday life in this great city.

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