Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Ivor Gurney - Five Elizabethan Songs for Choir and Piano


Ivor Gurney composed hundreds of songs in his short life of which the Five Elizabethan Songs are the most well-known. They were composed while still he was a student at the Royal College of Music in 1913/14, and have become much-loved pieces of the English song repertoire. They encompass a wide range of emotions, from bright cheerfulness to sombre introspection. This arrangement for choir and piano was made in January 2015 and was first performed by the BBC Singers. Much of the original piano part remains, with new choral textures added and vocal lines re-distributed. Although the songs were published in a specific sequence, Gurney left no particular order for the performance of the set. This new sequence traces a journey from optimistic innocence, through an emotional awakening, ending with the most profound song Sleep.


Listen to a live performance here:


1. Spring (2’27”)

2. Under the greenwood tree (1’52”)
3. Tears (2’48”)

4. Orpheus (1’53”)

5. Sleep (2’56”)