Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst were pupils of Stanford at the RCM during that fertile period of the mid-1890s which included John Ireland, Fritz Hart, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and William Hurlstone. Both composers were undoubtedly influenced by the plethora of folksong publications that had appeared during the nineteenth century. Enthusiasm for the ethnic repertoire had gathered pace with the serial publication of Thomas Moore’s Irish melodies between 1808 and 1834 and the huge popularity of The lark in the clear air
to words by Sir Samuel Ferguson; and there were numerous later editions of folk-songs, not least Stanford’s trend-setting Songs of Old Ireland
of 1882. But most significant for the young impressionable Vaughan Williams was the volume English County Songs
(1893) jointly edited by Lucy Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland, the founding of the Folk Song Society in 1898, and the work of Cecil Sharp who had become England’s most assiduous folksong collector.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2001