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railway music


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Many comps. have reflected interest in railways and railway engines. Perhaps the earliest is Berlioz's Le chant des chemins de fer, 1846, which exists in 2 versions: as No.3 of his 6 Feuillets d'album, Op.19, for v. and pf., and for v. and orch. The cantata version was written for the opening of the Fr. Northern Railway and was perf. at Lille on 14 June 1846. The text was by Jules Janin. Other works worthy of note are J. Strauss II's Excursion Train Polka, Honegger's Pacific 231, A. Butterworth's Trains in the Distance, Lumbye's Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop, Villa‐Lobos's Little Train of the Caipira, and Krenek's The Santa Fe Timetable. Britten's song Midnight on the Great Western, from Winter Words, Op.52, is also memorable. The first of Webern's 6 Orchestral Pieces, Op.6, describes a rail journey to visit the graves of his parents. The first piece of musique concrète by Schaeffer in 1948 was an assemblage of railway noises called Étude aux chemins de fer. There are also Vivian Ellis's light orch. piece Coronation Scot, commemorating the L.M.S. 1937 ‘crack’ engine, and the delightful Amer. song Chattanooga Choo‐Choo by Gordon and Warren. Possibly the film mus. by Britten for Night Mail should also count as railway mus.

Subjects: Music.


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