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Cafetalk Tutor's Column

Tutor Katie 's Column

British Classical Composers

Oct 23, 2017

Hello everyone! Welcome to this week's British Culture Column.


I have played music for my entire life. When I was four, I began to learn the piano. By the time I was ten, I has also started learning the trumpet. Both are instruments I enjoy playing to this day. Consequently, I have a soft spot for classical music - and Britain has plenty of fantastic composers to choose from! So, I would like to share with you some of my favourite pieces of music written by British composers:


The Wasps Overture - Ralph Vaughan Williams

While his piece “The Lark Ascending” is perhaps more famous (and undeniably beautiful), The Wasps Overture has a special place in my heart. When I was studying at university, I was lucky enough to play with the student orchestra and this was one of my favourite pieces I’ve ever played. When I listen to it, I imagine beautiful green fields, forests, and all the creatures that live there. What do you imagine?


Mars, the Bringer of War (from “The Planets” Suite) - Gustav Holst

Don’t be fooled by his name, Gustav Holst was definitely born on English soil! In a place called Gloucestershire to be exact. Being a trumpet player, it was inevitable that I would love this piece - the brass section definitely has the best part! I recommend listening to this if you’re in a bad mood.


Test Drive (from “How to Train Your Dragon”)- John Powell 

John Powell is hands down my favourite film music composer and it was really difficult to only pick one piece! I believe that the “How to Train your Dragon” movies both have incredible soundtracks. Every time I listen to them I feel powerful, inspired and emotional all at the same time. If I’m ever afraid or nervous (maybe for an exam or a job interview), I always listen to “Test Drive” and I feel unstoppable!

*side note* I also recommend the film “Chicken Run” if you want to truly understand the British mindset.


Cello concerto in E Minor, Op. 85 - Edward Elgar

I love the cello. I think it’s a beautiful instrument and I would love to learn to play it. I listened to this concerto live and it is probably the most emotional piece in this list. This piece was composed after the First World War (1919) and within its music you can hear the grief and sadness he felt after many of his friends had died. This piece has made me cry more than once!


Of course, I have so many classical favourites but, for now, I hope you enjoy these pieces of music! 


Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your opinions. What music do you like to listen to?




Consequently = as a result


Have a soft spot for something = to really like/love something


Composer = a person who writes music


Creature = animal


Don’t be fooled = don’t be deceived


Inevitable = certain to happen; unavoidable


To be in a bad mood = to be angry, upset, annoyed, or generally feeling bad.


Hands down (idiom) = easily; there’s no competition (e.g. “he’s hands down the smartest boy in the class”)

Mindset = way of thinking; culture.

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