In the Fen Country

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In the Fen Country is an orchestral tone poem written by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Vaughan Williams had completed the first version of the work in April 1904.[1] He subsequently revised the work in 1905 and 1907.[2] It is Vaughan Williams' earliest composition not to be withdrawn.

Whilst various 1920 reports indicated that the score was lost at that time, with one saying "perhaps irretrievably"[2] and another "temporarily lost",[3] Alain Frogley commented in 1991 that the manuscript score is in the British Library.[4]

Described by Vaughan Williams as a "symphonic impression", it received its premiere under the conductor Thomas Beecham in 1909. The piece is meant to evoke feelings of traversing East Anglia's often bleak Fen landscape, illustrated by the solo opening melody, then wide open spaces as portrayed by sweeping string orchestral textures, with a melodic language strongly reminiscent of English folksong, and a harmonic language closely aligned with that of Frederick Delius in his idyllic idiom. The orchestration was altered in 1935 and perhaps earlier as well.[5]

In the Fen Country received its first publication from Oxford University Press, posthumously, in 1969.[5]



  1. ^ Kennedy 1992, p. 84.
  2. ^ a b Evans 1920, p. 305.
  3. ^ Fox Strangways 1920, p. 78.
  4. ^ Frogley 1991, p. 309.
  5. ^ a b Vaillancourt 1996, p. 43.


Evans, Edwin (1920). "Ralph Vaughan Williams (Contd.)". Modern British Composers. The Musical Times. 61 (927): 302–305. doi:10.2307/909930. ISSN 2397-5318.
Fox Strangways, A. H. (1920). "Ralph Vaughan Williams". Music & Letters. Oxford University Press. 1 (2): 78–86. doi:10.1093/ml/1.2.78. ISSN 1477-4631. JSTOR 726801.
Frogley, Alain (1991). "Review of Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Guide to Research by Neil Butterworth". Music & Letters. Oxford University Press. 72 (2): 308–310. doi:10.1093/ml/72.2.308. ISSN 1477-4631. JSTOR 735729.
Kennedy, Michael (1992). The Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-816330-5.
Vaillancourt, Michael (1996). "Coming of Age: the Earliest Orchestral Music". In Frogley, Alain. Vaughan Williams Studies. Cambridge Composer Studies. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 23–46. ISBN 978-0-521-48031-4.