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Donald Macleod explains how, while in hospital during WWI, Gurney fell in love with a nurse and subsequently composed one of his favourite songs, The Folly of Being Comforted.

Invalided home, Gurney falls in love.

It's a story that begins full of possibility and hope; Gurney was one of the brightest musical lights of his generation. He imagined himself as Schubert's heir; a fresh, young genius whose music and poetry would revolutionise British society. Donald Macleod discovers how that early promise came to fruition and then unravelled, as Gurney struggled with the horrors of World War One and serious mental illness. Gurney expert, Dr Kate Kennedy, joins Donald to uncover the man behind the tragedy and explore the art he produced in the face of enormous adversity. Much of Gurney's output is still rarely performed, and several works have been specially recorded for these programmes.

With Gurney serving in France during World War One, his passion for music took a back seat. However, his creativity found a new outlet as a poet. He didn't stop composing altogether though, and one of his songs, Captain Stratton's Fancy, became quite a hit amongst fellow soldiers.

Gurney had now transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He escaped with only minor symptoms after being caught in a gas attack, but found himself sent back from the frontline, and eventually shipped off to Scotland for treatment. Whilst in hospital he fell in love with a nurse, Annie Nelson Drummond, and during his convalescence he composed one of his favourite songs, The Folly of Being Comforted.

1 hour

Clip

Music Played

  • Ivor Gurney

    Nocturne in A flat major for piano

    Performer: Alan Gravill.
    • Gamut Classics: GAMCD516.
    • Gamut Classics.
    • 11.
  • Ivor Gurney

    A Gloucestershire rhapsody for orchestra

    Orchestra: BBC Scottish S O. Conductor: David Parry.
  • Ivor Gurney

    The Fiddler of Dooney

    Singer: Susan Bickley. Performer: Iain Burnside.
    • Naxos: 8572151.
    • Naxos.
    • 18.
  • Ivor Gurney

    Thou didst delight my eyes for voice and piano

    Singer: Susan Bickley. Performer: Iain Burnside.
    • Naxos: 8572151.
    • Naxos.
    • 28.
  • Ivor Gurney

    The Apple orchard for voice and piano

    Performer: David Fruhwirth. Performer: Henri Sigfridsson.
    • Avie: AV0009.
    • Avie.
    • 15.
  • Ivor Gurney

    Captain Stratton's fancy for voice and piano

    Singer: Roderick Williams. Performer: susie allan.
    • SOMM: SOMMCD057.
    • SOMM.
    • 8.
  • Ivor Gurney

    The Folly of being comforted

    Singer: Ian Partridge. Performer: Jennifer Partridge.
    • Etcetera: KTC1063.
    • Etcetera.
    • 12.

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