Sullivan’s Empire
in Imperialism and music
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Sir Arthur Sullivan acknowledged his Irish roots in his Irish Symphony, composed after a visit to Ireland though it is a work which owes as much to Mendelssohn and Schumann as to Irish folk-song. Sullivan's biographer Arthur Jacobs noted that his diary contained few references to public affairs or politics. But Sullivan was conservative, a monarchist and a patriot at a time when patriotism also embraced Empire. Sullivan had been an infant prodigy, already composing anthems and psalm settings while still one of the children of the Chapel Royal. Sullivan set several Lord Tennyson verses as songs: St Agnes Eve, O, Swallow, Swallow, The Sisters, What Does Little Birdie Say? and Tears, Idle tears. He provided incidental music for Tennyson's Robin Hood play The Foresters and set Tennyson's Ode for the opening of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition.

Imperialism and music

Britain 1876–1953


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