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Roses of Picardy

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Haydn Wood

Haydn Wood (arr. Godfrey)

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General Info

Year: 1916
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Chappell & Co.

Cost: Score and Parts - Out of print


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Roses of Picardy is a British popular song with lyrics by Frederick Weatherly and music by Haydn Wood. Published in London in 1916 by Chappell & Co, it was one of the most famous songs of the First World War and has been recorded frequently up to the present day.

The lyricist Fred Weatherly had become impressed with beauty of the voice of the soprano Elsie Griffin, who later became a leading artiste with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. Her singing of his compositions resulted in his writing two of the most popular hits of the 20th century, Danny Boy (1910) and Roses of Picardy. The composer Haydn Wood wrote the music for over 200 ballads, of which Roses of Picardy became his most popular. Wood related that, as he was going home one night on the top of a London bus, the melody came to him. He jumped off the bus and wrote down the refrain on an old envelope while standing under a street lamp.

The exact story that lies behind the words of the song is unclear, but in his 1926 memoirs, Weatherly suggested that it concerned a love affair of one of his close friends. Weatherly travelled in France visiting the Rhone valley and Chamonix. Picardy was a historical province of France which stretched from north of Noyon to Calais via the whole of the Somme department and the north of the Aisne department. This area contained the Somme battlefields – the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the First World War.

The song quickly became popular throughout Britain, with British soldiers singing it when they enlisted for the Front in France and Flanders. During the First World War, the song sold at a rate of 50,000 copies of the sheet music per month, earning Haydn Wood approximately £10,000 in total (£425,038 in 2015 adjusted for inflation). Following the war, the singing of the song helped soldiers who were suffering from shell shock to regain their powers of speech.

-Program Note from Wikipedia

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

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  • Virginia Grand Military Band (Alexandria, Va.) (Loras John Schissel, conductor; David Boltz, cornet) - 15 March 2015

Works for Winds by this Composer