Em Marshall is the Founder-Director of the acclaimed English Music Festival, Director of the CD label EM Records and Chairman of both the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society and Granville Bantock Society. Marshall recently headed down to Dorset to sign copies of her book Music in the Landscape.
Here’s what happened when The Book Shop welcomed Em Marshall to the Dorset landscapes…
As a relative newcomer to Dorset, I hadn’t yet had the chance to sample the delights of Bridport, so was delighted when my first book-signing event was confirmed for The Book Shop in that very town, on Saturday 17th March. Despite being a rather overcast and chilly March morning, the town was absolutely packed – partly, it appeared, due to a popular street market, purveying everything from bananas to rusting old saws and door knobs! The Book Shop is centrally located on the charming and ancient main street, and I was warmly welcomed by Ross and his assistant Anne, who looked after me very well. We had good interest, with a variety of customers ranging from those who already knew me (pleasant surprises to see them!), through those who had never met me but had ordered the book in advance (it took me some time to wipe the grin off my face after one woman called me her ‘hero’ and ‘the person who has done most for English music in recent years with the sole exception of Richard Hickox’!), through to composers who just happened to be passing and noticed the poster in the window! I found it rewarding and interesting talking to these good folk about English music and the countryside, and the links between these. Several had relatives who were composers and told me their stories of how their particular part of England inspired said relative. On the whole, it was a morning pleasantly spent – made all the better by an ensuing bag of chips on a nearby cliff!
– Em Marshall
Music in the Landscape is available to buy now in hardback, with a foreword by Jeremy Irons and introduction by Jonathan Dimbleby.
MUSIC IN THE LANDSCAPE
Music in the Landscape is an exuberant celebration of British composers and the landscape. The book explores the lives of some of our nation’s greatest musical names and sets them within the context of the rich variety of their native countryside – wherein Britain’s vast variation of colour, light and contour, from gentle rounded valleys to bleak mountain landscapes and wild coastland, has resulted in great masterpieces that brim with expression and emotion.
Although readers may be aware of Elgar’s love of the Malverns or Britten’s identification with the Suffolk coast, nearly all British composers of the early- to mid-twentieth century were influenced by the landscapes in which they were born or chose to live, and so this book effectively presents a history of the Golden Renaissance of English music.
Marshall delves into particular places that were vital to the inspiration of musical landmarks – such as Tintagel, instrumental to Bax’s eponymous tone-poem; Maiden Castle of John Ireland’s Mai-Dun; and Egdon Heath, Holst’s evocation of the wild Dorset heathland described by Hardy in The Return of The Native. These works, and many others highlighted in this illuminating volume, epitomise the intimate relationship between nature and music that compels the attention of music-lovers throughout the world.