Gustav Holst (1874 – 1934) was an English composer best known for his orchestral suite The Planets. Between 1909 and 1911 he also composed two suites for military band. His First Suite in E-Flat and Second Suite in F were premiered in 1920 and 1922, respectively, and are now both considered essential repertoire for advanced wind bands. Song Without Words is the second movement of the Second Suite in F and is a hauntingly beautiful setting of the Cornish folk song I’ll Love My Love.
The lyrics to I’ll Love My Love recount the story of a young woman who is emotionally tormented after her love is sent off to sea by his parents. The melody – in F dorian – conveys both heartache and hope as she is simultaneously distraught over her lost love and unwavering in her affection for him. The melody is presented twice: first with slowly rocking chordal accompaniment and then over rising and falling arpeggios. Both settings are evocative of the waters that surround the county of Cornwall and separate the young lovers.
Song Without Words is available for purchase through Tapspace Publications.