‘Time still weaves its web. Cold winds blow across the country – but blue sky, the occasional sight of flowers are the essence of future hope. Soon the green fire will be bursting from all the hedgerows . . . and the stagnant pools will become animated with life . . .’
The letters and diaries of William Baines (1899-1922) reveal the way the composer drew his inspiration from the Yorkshire landscape. His impressionistic piano pieces conjure up pictures of coast, woodland and moor.
The Yorkshire of William Baines, my final project for a Diploma in Art & Design course at Leeds coincided with the 50th anniversary of his death. I started by talking to his surviving friends and relatives and went on to produce a publication, two concerts and an exhibition that at the Harrogate Festival in 1972. As a result of all this work, Roger Carpenter invited me to provide the illustrations for his biography of Baines, Goodnight to Flamborough.
I’m reminded of that ‘green fire’ quote when the hawthorn leaves start to appear in the wintry hedges. This winter was the warmest on record for central England, and records begin in 1659 so, uniquely as far as I remember, we’ve had a few green leaves in the hedge throughout the winter.
Link: William Baines, composer and pianist