Browne’s best-known song, To Gratiana dancing and singing
, setting words by Richard Lovelace, was composed in February 1913 for his friend, the tenor Steuart Wilson, and is one of the most beautiful creations in the entire repertoire of twentieth-century English song. The influence of Elizabethan music is apparent: the melody that forms the accompaniment is an anonymous seventeenth-century Allmayne in Elizabeth Rogers’s Virginal Book, which the composer heard in a 1908 while acting in a university production of Milton’s Comus
. Over the sonorous, rich chords of the piano, treading the measure of the Allmayne, the vocal line curves and soars in ecstatic wonder at Gratiana’s performance.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2003