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Joanna's Notes on the Playlist

1.  Stompin’ at the Savoy – Jimmy Dorsey.

The music you hear as you arrive at a Chilcombe party.

2. Wishing and Waiting for Love – Nat Shilkret and His Orchestra

I listened to 1920s music when writing The Whalebone Theatre and this one always felt like Rosalind’s song to me. Although arguably, it could equally be Jasper’s.

3.  Les Chemins de l’Amour – Francis Poulenc

The book features a trip  to see the Ballets Russes, a revolutionary ballet company that recruited composers such as Poulenc. This track is from an album inspired by the Ballets Russes.

4. Home – Louis Armstrong

This is playing at the dance Digby attends in a village hall in Kent in 1939.

5. Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! – Glenn Miller and his Orchestra

The incident described in the chapter A Nightclub in Piccadilly is a real one, and the band that was playing that night was a popular one, and this, apparently, was the tune they were playing when it happened.

6. If I Only Had a Brain – Ray Bolger, Judy Garland

From the 1939 film Wizard of Oz,  much loved by Flossie. She mentions it in her diary and endeavours to teach Hans the songs.

7. Sheep May Safely Graze – JS Bach

There are many lovely Bach pieces that Flossie might play on the piano in the chapter Tempo Rubato, and you can choose your own if you prefer, but I often think it could be this one.

8. Silver Wings in the Moonlight – Anne Shelton

It always fascinates me that people were singing songs about the war during the war. Like this one, a 1943 tune that you will find playing on the wireless in the chapter The Christmas Committee.

9. Let’s Face the Music and Dance – Fred Astaire 

musical number from the 1936 film Follow the Fleet enjoyed by both Flossie and her pigs.

10. GI Jive – Louis Jordan

About 80,000 American soldiers lived in Dorset during the build-up to D-Day landings. It’s interesting to imagine what they would have thought of the rural county they found themselves in, and how the locals would have reacted to these strangers from another land. 


View from the South Dorset Ridgeway

11. Rusty Dusty Blues – Count Basie

The GIs brought their music with them. They had their own radio station, the American Forces Network, which even Betty enjoyed. You can listen to what wartime AFN sounded like here. ("It's classy as a snazzy chassis! It's groovy as a ten cent movie!"). 

12. Seule ce soir – Léo Marjane

This French song from 1941 makes me think about how music might have served an additional purpose in Occupied Europe, when singers could perhaps describe feelings that were otherwise inexpressible. 

13. Leclair Violin Concerto Op.7 No.1 – Menuhin

This track and the next are ones I imagine being played during the musical evenings that take place in the novel during the war. This one chosen by Flossie for its French composer and its uplifting qualities.

14. Elgar Enigma Variations: Nimrod – London Philharmonic

The musical evenings at Chilcombe are, in part, inspired by the writer Lucy M Boston, who writes in her memoirs about inviting RAF personnel to her home to listen to music during the war. She became so tired of their frequent requests for this Elgar piece that she pretended the record was broken.

15. Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G Major – Pablo Casals

I think of this as Flossie’s wartime song. Perhaps it's the one she listens to in the bath. I know this piece thanks to a wonderful version by Yo-Yo Ma, but for this playlist I chose a 1930s recording that might feasibly be found on the gramophone at Chilcombe.


Paris, France

16. Jonah – The Golden Gate Quartet

When I was researching GIs, I read that Black troops stationed in Britain sometimes gave performances of spirituals. You can see a photo of this here. I tried to find some spirituals, so I could hear what they sounded like, and chose this one for its whale-related title. If you are interested in reading more about Black GIs in England,  Forgotten by Linda Hervieux, is a fascinating book. You can also have a look at the IWM site here

17. God Bless the Child – Billie Holiday

The soundtrack to an evening with Maudie on the roof of a chip shop in Weymouth.

18. Ma voiture contre une jeep – Georges Ulmer

Back to France and bouncing along in a jeep for the chapter called The Americans

19. Doucet: Isoldina – Alexandre Tharaud

There is a famous Parisian cabaret-bar called Le Bœuf sur le Toit that was popular with high-ranking Nazis. A man called Clement Doucet was the resident pianist and this piece of his  based on works by Wagner, one of Hitler’s favourite composers – is what I imagine him playing to entertain Germans in Occupied Paris. 

20. Nuages – Django Reinhardt

Reinhardt was a brilliant jazz musician, always under threat from the Nazis because he came from a Romani family. He played in Paris during the war and this song from the 1940s came to symbolise the city’s yearning for liberation. 

21. Berceuse in D-Flat Major – Chopin

Chopin lived for a while on the Île Saint-Louis, an island in the middle of Paris that features in the chapter called The Island. Flossie is also a fan of Chopin and D is one of her favourite musical keys.

22. I’m Making Believe – Ella Fitzgerald 

Pretending and make-believe are themes that run through the novel, so this seemed an apt song to start to bring the playlist to a close.

23. We’ll Meet Again  Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman Orchestra 

A wartime song made famous by Vera Lynn, but I think this jazzy version from 1942 is what would be playing on the gramophone at Chilcombe when they roll up the rugs and take a spin around the Oak Hall on VE Day.

24. Prospero’s Magic– Michael Nyman 

I wanted something at the end of the playlist that referenced the theatre and this Nyman piece, used in a Peter Greenaway film of The Tempest, seemed ideal, as the Seagraves put on their own version of The Tempest, and there is a quote from the play at the start of the novel. It also serves as a useful reminder that there are always new versions of old stories. 

24. The Soff Sea of a Summer Afternoon – Chesil Beach, August 1958

I have no idea if ‘soff’ is a spelling mistake, but I hope it’s an actual word because it’s a nice one. Here you can listen to the sea on Chesil Beach, a pebble causeway visible from the attic windows of Chilcombe.


Chesil Beach, Dorset

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