Do you enjoy listening to music? What British music do you know? In these activities you will learn about British music from the past and present as you prepare for the Life in the UK test.

Music

Music is an important part of British culture, with a rich and varied heritage. It ranges from classical music to modern pop. There are many different venues and musical events that take place across the UK.

The Proms is an eight-week summer season of orchestral classical music that takes place in various venues, including the Royal Albert Hall in London. It has been organised by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) since 1927. The Last Night of the Proms is the most well-known concert and (along with others in the series) is broadcast on television.

Classical music has been popular in the UK for many centuries. Henry Purcell (1659-95) was the organist at Westminster Abbey. He wrote church music, operas and other pieces, and developed a British style distinct from that elsewhere in Europe. He continues to be influential on British composers.

The German-born composer George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) spent many years in the UK and became a British citizen in 1727. He wrote the Water Music for King George l and Music for the Royal Fireworks for his son, George ll. Both these pieces continue to be very popular. Handel also wrote an oratorio, Messiah, which is sung regularly by choirs, often at Easter time.

More recently, important composers include Gustav Holst (1874-1934), whose work includes The Planets, a suite of pieces themed around the planets of the solar system. He adapted Jupiter, part of the Planets suite, as the tune for I vow to thee my country, a popular hymn in British churches.

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was born in Worcester, England. His best-known work is probably the Pomp and Circumstance Marches. March No 1 (Land of Hope and Glory) is usually played at the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote music for orchestras and choirs. He was strongly influenced by traditional English folk music.

Sir William Walton (1902-83) wrote a wide range of music, from film scores to opera. He wrote marches for the coronations of King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth ll but his best-known works are probably Façade, which became a ballet, and Balthazar’s Feast, which is intended to be sung by a large choir.

Benjamin Britten (1913-76) is best known for his operas, which include Peter Grimes and Billy Budd. He also wrote A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, which is based on a piece of music by Purcell and introduces the listener to the various different sections of an orchestra. He founded the Aldeburgh festival in Suffolk, which continues to be a popular music event of international importance.

Other types of popular music, including folk music, jazz, pop and rock music, have flourished in Britain since the 20th century. Britain has had an impact on popular music around the world, due to the wide use of the English language, the UK’s cultural links with many countries, and British capacity for invention and innovation.

Since the 1960s, British pop music has made one of the most important cultural contributions to life in the UK. Bands including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones continue to have an influence on music both here and abroad. British pop music has continued to innovate – for example the Punk movement of the late 1970s, and the trend towards boy and girl bands in the 1990s.

There are many large venues that host music events throughout the year, such as: Wembley Stadium; The O2 in Greenwich, south-east London; and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow.

Festival season takes place across the UK every summer, with major events in various locations. Famous festivals include Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight Festival and the V Festival. Many bands and solo artists, both well-known and up-and-coming, perform at these events.

The National Eisteddfod of Wales is an annual cultural festival which includes music, dance, art and original performances largely in Welsh. It includes a number of important competitions for Welsh poetry.

The Mercury Music Prize is awarded each September for the best album from the UK and Ireland. The Brit Awards is an annual event that gives awards in a range of categories, such as best British group and best British solo artist.

This text is taken from Life in the United Kingdom, a Guide for New Residents, 3rd edition 

Page 90  

© Crown Copyright 2013

Tasks

Task 1 - comprehension

Task 2 - matching sentences

Task 3 - prepositions

Life in the UK test - make sure you understand

Before you take the Life in the UK test, make sure you understand:

  • Some of the major music events that happen in the UK

Downloads

Comments

  • What music do you like listening to? 
  • Who’s your favourite band, singer or composer?

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You can find out more about the Life in the UK test, and about applying for British citizenship here:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/