Gustav Holst, composer
Like Holst’s First Suite, the Second Suite had to wait
more than ten years to receive its first performance.
The Second Suite is based entirely on material from folk songs and
The first movement starts with a morris dance followed by the lyric folk
song Swansea Town.
The tune at the trio is Claudy Banks.
The second movement uses the Cornish song I’ll Love My Love, a
modal lament about a maiden sent to Bedlam because her true love has gone to
The "Song of the Blacksmith" uses changing meters and anvil effects in the
percussion section to create its atmosphere.
The final movement, "Fantasia on the Dargason," was later used by Holst as
the finale of the St. Paul Suite for string orchestra.
Gustav Holst’s Second Suite, composed in 1911, uses English
folk songs and folk dance tunes throughout.
The suite has four movements, each with its own distinctive character.
The opening march movement uses three tunes, set in the pattern ABCAB.
Tune A is a lively Morris dance, a type of dance that was very popular
in the Renaissance.
Tune B, a folk song called Swansea Town, is broad and lyrical.
The third tune, Claudy Banks, is distinctly different from the other
two, having a lilting, swinging feeling derived from its compound duple meter.
The second movement of the suite is a slow, tender setting of the English
love song, I’ll Love My Love.
The third movement, Song of the Blacksmith, is complex rhythmically.
It demonstrates Holst’s inventive scoring with a lively rhythm being
played on the blacksmith’s anvil.
The last movement, The Dargason, is an English country dance and folk
song dating at least from the sixteenth century.
Holst combines it with the well-known love song Greensleeves.
R. John Specht, Queensborough Community College
The Second Suite in F was written in 1911 and is considered one of
the cornerstones of the concert band literature.
Composed for “Military Band” (which is the English designation
for full band instrumentation as opposed to a British Brass Band), the
four-movement suite presents a variety of English folk songs and other dance
The first movement begins with a “Morris Dance&rquo; with roots from the
Renaissance, followed by the folk song “Swansea Town,” and then
The second movement is a slow, lyrical love song “I’ll Love my
The third movement, “The Song of the Blacksmith,” is a clever
rhythmic display that includes the blacksmith’s punctuating anvil, and
the fourth movement is a country dance and folk song titled “The