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Opus 51
For the Fallen

In 1915 (the second year of the First World War), composer Cyril Rootham grasped this poem by Laurence Binyon and set it to music. Rootham was trying to express the mixture of pride and sorrow which Britain felt as an entire generation was slaughtered on the battlefield.

This recording

This recording is a real concert with all the excitement and challenges of a live recording. This performance by the Chiswick Choir conducted by Alistair Jones took place in the church of St. Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park on 26 November 2011. If you are looking for a synthesised Midi file for choral practice purposes, try our alternative web page with a synthetic file for each SATB voice with piano accompaniment.

Published score

The sheet music for Rootham's "For the Fallen" is in print and available from Cathedral Music under catalogue reference C 1086. It's worth pointing out the role of pioneering conductors Robert Tucker (Broadheath Singers, 1995) and Alistair Jones (Chiswick Choir, 2011) in getting this neglected work back into the repertoire and available in print.

If your choral society would like to perform Rootham's "For the Fallen", do please contact Dan Rootham through our Feedback page. Dan will be glad to provide advice and support, practice CDs and so on.


Historical background

Opus 51 "For the Fallen" expressed the anguish of an entire nation, and Cyril Rootham was not the only composer to set this poem to music. Edward Elgar followed a year later in 1916, and the inevitable clash between these two composers is described quite fairly on the Elgar website. A hundred years later, we should simply be grateful that there are now two great musical settings of this poem. The Elgar website states: "...when the nation might have expected some rousing patriotic tunes [...], Elgar demonstrated remarkable restraint, capturing well the sadness and desolation of war without becoming maudlin". A description which well fits Rootham's setting of Binyon's poem as well.

Laurence Binyon

What do know about Laurence Binyon as a person and a poet? In 1915, despite being too old to enlist in the First World War, Laurence Binyon volunteered at a British hospital for French soldiers in Haute-Marne, France, working briefly as a hospital orderly until 1916. There's a helpful biographical summary on the website of allpoetry.com.

Binyon Binyon Binyon

You can also read about Laurence Binyon in this Wikipedia article.