Politics and Poetry: The English Horn as the Voice of the Irish Bard in Arnold Bax's sextet In Memoriam (1916)

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2015-12

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Abstract

The purpose of this analysis of Arnold Bax’s sextet In Memoriam (1916) is to further the understanding of what compositional traits Bax considered Irish while acknowledging the influence of the Irish Literary Revival, often referred to as the “Celtic Twilight.” Through this analysis, I will explain the significance of the bard in Irish history, and the interpretations that can be drawn from its inclusion in the sextet, while highlighting the connection of the sextet to the Easter Rising. This discussion links In Memoriam (1916) to In the Faery Hills, an earlier Irish-influenced work that previously used the English horn as the voice of the Irish bard. The study of the sextet investigates the influence of Irish folk music on the work and argues that Bax attempted to use these elements and the English horn to depict the character of an “Irish bard.” This essay also discusses the relationship between In Memoriam (1916) and “A Dublin Ballad,” both of which were responses to the Easter Rising of 1916.

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Arnold Bax, English Horn, Celtic Twilight, Ireland, In Memoriam (1916)

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