BBC Radio Broadcast, 1994



July 1934

October 1934


Further Writing

Programme notes etc.

Serenade in G



Prologue Opening (MP3)




Farrago Suite (1932, withdrawn)

  1. Prelude
  2. Minuet
  3. Rondino
  4. Rigadoon

Moeran wrote his suite Farrago in 1932, probably in response to Warlock's success with his Capriol Suite. However, Farrago was soon withdrawn, despite several performances at the time, including a BBC broadcast and a 1934 Proms outing. It sees Moeran writing in a pastiche English Renaissance and Baroque style (Warlock's suite was based on dance-tunes from 16th century composer Thoinot Arbeau). However, Farrago did not disappear completely, despite its composer later saying 'it doesn't exist' - two movements make a reappearance in the Serenade in G of 1948.

Actually, to be more precise, the whole work was incorporated into the Serenade in its original eight-movement form, but when Moeran's publisher insisted he cut two movements out, Moeran decided to excise two of his Farrago movements, rather than lose any of his new work. The irony is that this then leaves the Serenade as perhaps a rather unsatisfying piece, somewhat more disjointed than Moeran originally intended.

Fortunately for the Moeran listener, in 1990 Chandos decided to release a recording of the original full version of the Serenade, on CHAN 8808, and when in 1994 the original scores of Farrago were dusted off for an anniversary performance, it finally became possible to make a direct listening comparison between the two works. This is something which has eluded scholars for many years - no recording was ever made of the Farrago Suite, and Moeran may have gambled on few people with memories long and astute enough to spot his use of it in the new work. Whether there is any sleight of hand in the fact that the two excised movements from the Serenade had been given new names is impossible to say, though perhaps it is more than coincidence.

In his book "The Music of E J Moeran", Geoffrey Self not only skips rather lightly over the Farrago, and also misses the fuller links between the two works. This is not surprising, as he noted at the time with regard to the two 'missing' Serenade movements: "These two movements are to be the copy of the score deposited with the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, Australia." Thus Self had access to neither the missing Serenade movements nor to Farrago.

Superficially the four corresponding movements seem identical. It is only in the finer detail and orchestration that one finds Moeran's revision, and a close score analysis would be required to pin down the changes precisely. This is not something I intend to do here. Instead, I offer you the chance to program your CD player to (almost) recreate the Farrago Suite from the Chandos Serenade recording, by matching up the movements as follows:

Farrago Suite

Serenade in G

1 - Prologue
1 - Prelude
2 - Intermezzo*
3 - Air
4 - Galop
2 - Minuet
5 - Minuet
3 - Rondino
6 - Forlana*
4 - Rigadoon
7 - Rigadoon
8 - Epilogue

*Note - the two movements which Moeran withdrew,
the Intermezzo and Forlana, both taken from the Farrago Suite.

These programme notes from the 1934 Proms performance serve to throw further light onto Farrago:

This Suite owes its title to the fact that when it was written, close on two years ago, - it was actually completed at the end of 1932 -, it was not originally the result of setting out to compose a homogeneous work. The last movement was composed specially for an amateur orchestra in Norwich who had asked Mr. Moeran for a piece of their own, and it was laid out with a view to the orchestra's rather modest attainments. The Minuet was not intended to be anything more than a pianoforte duet; it was composed in the first place for a friend and neighbour with whom Moeran plays four-handed music on the pianoforte. Although the Suite was written at odd times and with different purposes in view, eventually the four movements were put together for the Hastings Municipal Orchestra. It is scored exactly for their numbers, which accounts for there being only one oboe and two of the other wood-winds. It did not have its first performance at Hastings, however; an illness of Julius Harrison's had to postpone that. The first performance was actually at the B.B.C. studio concert under Julian Clifford, last year, and it was repeated there some three months ago. It was performed in Hastings, under Julius Harrison, in February of this year. Laid out for the moderate-sized orchestra of Beethoven's day, with only two horns and two trumpets and neither tuba nor harp, as the Suite is, the Minuet dispenses with trumpets, trombones and percussion, calling only on strings, wood-wind, and horns. Timpani are not used until the third movement, although in the Prelude there are tambourine, cymbals, side drum and xylophone.



the composer insisted: "it doesn't exist..."

©2001 The Worldwide Moeran Database