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Title: The rescue, reclamation or plunder of English folk-song? : a history of the Folk-Song Society 1898-1932
Author: Knevett, Arthur Albert Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 4202
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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The collection of folk-songs in late Victorian England was part of a wider craze for collecting and categorising all manner of things. In the case of folksongs the approach was antiquarian and initially centred on texts rather than tunes. Out of this there grew an interest in gathering songs from oral sources in the field and this was further spurred on by the discovery that the tunes used were, in many cases, based on the old modes. The discovery of this native 'peasant' music coincided with a growing sense of urgency within the music establishment to re-establish an English style of music. This fed into the need felt by many to re-invigorate patriotic and nationalistic feelings in the population at large. By the end of the century there was a small group of active collectors who responded to an initiative from the Irish Literary Society in London and, together with the support of the music colleges and influential members of the music establishment, they formed the nucleus of the Folk-Song Society. Existing scholarship focuses mainly on the collection of folk-songs in England up to the outbreak of the First World War. Moreover, much of the work produced in the past forty years has addressed a narrow set of questions often adopting a Marxist perspective in arguing that middle-class enthusiasts appropriated the songs they collected for their own purposes, both financial and political. This thesis provides a history of the Folk-Song Society covering the full thirty four years of its existence as an independent body and argues that the early collectors were motivated by a desire to rescue folk-songs which they believed were in danger of dying out with the ageing generation that preserved them. Their actions in selecting and altering the songs for publication are viewed in the light of the constraints, conventions and mores of their time. An assessment is provided of this small and specialised organisation within the social and intellectual context of the early twentieth century, detailing the work and achievements of the early pioneers and explaining the personal relationships and connections that underlay the creation of this influential society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available