Wonders of Youtube: “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…”

November 18, 2008 at 2:23 am (Anglophilia, Music)

It has come to my attention in recent weeks that some truly astonishing material is turning up on Youtube. Especially for us music lovers, it is very heaven!

Ron and I are both somewhat mystified as to where all this film footage – some of it quite rare – is coming from, and who these posters are. Meanwhile, we can only be grateful for this gift.

A couple of caveats: the quality of both the sound and the visuals varies wildly. Also, with regard to the music segments, information concerning the performers, the venue, and the date is often not provided. Some of these clips are so wonderful to have, though, that one feels bound to make allowances.

I’ll be sharing some of our favorite finds with you in the coming weeks. This particular edition should delight my fellow Anglophiles.


Those of us who were around in 1953 will always remember the  coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, seen live on the shaky new medium that was finding its inexorable way into people’s homes – and hearts. I vividly recall my brother and I in our family room, transfixed by the pageantry we were seeing. My brother got so carried away that he ran to find my mother, all the while shouting, “We have a new queen!”

Note this clip’s terrific soundtrack. The British understand the power of music to evoke an atmosphere of exaltation.

The BBC Proms is a yearly festival of classical music. It takes place primarily in London and runs from July to September. It bills itself as the largest such festival in the world, and it probably is. The last night of the proms has become an institution in itself. The fare is usually lighter, and the mood is patriotic and celebratory. Certain pieces are traditionally played on that night, one of them being the first Pomp and Circumstance March Number 1 in D by Sir Edward Elgar. A portion of the march provides the melody for “Land of Hope and Glory.”

Here’s a wonderful video of the last night of the 2006 Proms. While Pomp and Circumstance is being played, we view a montage of memorable moments in the life Queen Elizabeth II (who, thanks to my big brother, I still fondly think of as “our queen”).

(A clip of Sir Edward Elgar himself conducting Pomp and Circumstance can be found at the end of my review of The Remains of an Altar. )

John Rutter is a British composer primarily of choral works. I’ve loved his Requiem for a long time but had never heard this “Gaelic Blessing” until Youtube referred me to it, sung here by the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir.

John Rutter

John Rutter

This film chokes me up. I think you’ll understand why when you watch it.

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