This edition of The North Sea Ground is dedicated to the memory of Gordon Cumming, the former secretary of the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club, whose interest in Moeran prompted the intervention that rescued the manuscript from possible destruction and ensured its preservation.
The text written by Moeran in his manuscript shows some differences when compared with the poem as it was published in Punch magazine. Most of these are minor alterations in punctuation and word capitalization. In each case, the Punch source has been used for the performing edition.
The main textual variation is Moeran’s omission of the fifth verse of the poem. There is no way to change this in the musical setting so, for completion, the verse is included in brackets in the poem text. There is one difference in the set words: the third line of verse 6 (fifth set verse) has the word sweep in the original where Moeran’s manuscript has keep. This edition replaces Moeran’s word with sweep as this is both poetically consistent and true to the original verse.
Throughout the original poem many words are apostrophized: for example, lyin’ for lying, an’ for and, goin’ for going. This usage is consistent throughout the poem with the exception of the last line of the final verse, where the word lying evokes a heightened poignancy. Moeran’s text is inconsistent and apparently random. Again, the usage in the poem has been followed for this performing edition.
The musical transcription is true to Moeran’s manuscript with the exception of the addition of a number of rests that were (presumably accidentally) omitted. Some of the more extreme range notes have also been rendered more readable by the use of octave-shift notation. The ties in the piano in bars 31 and the end of 59 are editorial.
I am indebted to John Talbot, former Chairman of the British Music Society, for assistance in the preparation of this performing edition and I would like to express my grateful thanks to him. I would also like to thank Professor Jeremy Dibble of Durham University for invaluable advice regarding the historical context of the manuscript.
Ian Maxwell, Music Department, University of Durham