The disparate approaches to English pastoralism considered within this book—whether evoking scenes and characters from classical poetry, depicting an imaginary past or a hoped-for future, responding to the landscape, commenting on contemporary social and political challenges, providing spiritual sustenance for the living, or eulogizing the dead—firmly banish outdated clichés of it as little more than folky-wolky roister-doistering. Instead, pastoralism stands revealed as a subtle and flexible expressive mode capable of transcending the circumstances and surroundings of its creation, conveyed by a distinctive and highly adaptable array of stylistic traits. But in the wake of Finzi’s death in 1956 and Vaughan Williams’s only two years later, English pastoral music fell into relative obscurity. Composers who had written pastoral works in previous decades (including Howells, Ireland, and Bliss) had either largely turned away from the idiom or limited it to certain smaller-scale or niche contexts (such as church music, in Howells’s case). Meanwhile, the rise of both a prominent British avant-garde musical movement during the later 1950s and an extraordinarily vital pop music scene in the following decade made it difficult for the older, less demonstrative pastoral style to hold the public or critical imagination....
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