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Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy, The

Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy, The


Thomas Hardy, world famous for his novels such as 'Tess' and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' came from a very musical family. His Grandfather was a cellist and his father and uncle played the fiddle. Thomas himself started to play the fiddle when he was very young and showed a lot of talent for the instrument.

The elder Hardys played in the village band at the village of Stinsford, just outside Dorchester, Dorset. They performed for the Church services and for any local celebrations, weddings etc. In the course of this they collected hundreds of tunes and wrote them down in their music books. Thomas carried on the tradition and for this we owe the Hardy family a huge debt of gratitude.

In their concert 'The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy', The Yetties take their jogs, reels, polkas and waltzes from the Hardy family collection and intersperse them with readings and poems by Thomas about the village musicians. Sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious, the antics of the village choir create a real flavour of Dorset in the 1800's.

Hardy's love of the musical folk of Dorset is beautifully illustrated by this quote from 'Under The Greenwood Tree':

Your brass man is a rafting dog, well and good,
Your reed man is dab hand at stirring ye, well and good,
Your drum man is a rare bowel shaker, good again,
But I don't care who hears me say it
Nothing can spake to your heart with the sweetness of a man of strings

The Yetties have performed The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy on television, radio and many times in concert including some very special evenings in Stinsford Church where the Hardy family used to play.

Mr T.R. Wightman, Chairman of the Thomas Hardy Society, says, 'Just as Hardy's works have captivated readers world-wide so have The Yetties established a reputation 'A thirt the Zeas'. Nobody could be more fitted to present these tunes than The Yetties whose background tallies so well with the Hardy's.

'The sheer magic of the evening commenced when singer and narrator Bonny Sartin related passages so descriptive of the Vale of Blackmore from Tess one was almost reverie'. - "The Thomas Hardy Journal".

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