Cecil Sharp

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Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), English folk music collector and editor, studied at Cambridge, before becoming a teacher. About 1900 he became interested in the folk songs of the English villages and countryside; many of which were already being forgotten with the increasing ubiquity of “popular” music and the nascent recording industry.

He began visiting pubs and village halls, taking down and publishing the songs and dance tunes of the old-timers. More than anyone, he can be credited with saving the musical heritage of the English countryside – he collected nearly 5000 tunes, publishing nearly 1200 of them. He also toured the Appalachian area of USA collecting tunes and “square dances” of English origin. His work was used and augmented by a generation of English composers, themselves collectors; notably Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and George Butterworth.