Maud Karpeles - 1932 and After

1932 and After

The "English Folk Dance Society" (EFDS) merged with the "Folk-Song Society" (FSS) in 1932 to become the "English Folk Dance and Song Society" (EFDSS). By this time the FSS had ceased to collect songs, and all the profits came from teaching dances and selling song-books. EFDSS elected Karpeles as honorary secretary. She continued to edit Sharp's manuscripts and was an energetic organiser of international festivals. Karpeles organised the International Folk Dance Festival and Conference in London in 1935. In 1950, and again in 1955, she returned to the Appalachian Mountains. This time she recorded singers for the BBC. Some of the people she met remembered meeting Sharp the first time around. Once the folk singer Phil Tanner was discovered in Gower, Wales, Karpeles made sure that he was recorded. Karpeles was awarded the OBE in 1961, for services of folk music. She received two honorary degrees: one from Université Laval in Quebec (1961) and one from the Memorial University of Newfoundland (1970).

Cecil Sharp's "English Folk Song: Some Conclusions" was considered to be a classic on the subject and Karpeles added material to the second, third and fourth editions. She never wavered from the original idea of the essential purity of folk song, free from commercialisation or vulgarity. Today a more interactive theory is widely held. Songs from the music hall can be adopted and reused by country singers. In addition erotic songs occupy an important place in folk music, though Sharp bowdlerised texts in accordance with the social mores of his time. She never lost her concern for the less fortunate. During the Second World War she helped refugee musicians and with the Red Cross. In 1962 refugees from Tristan Da Cunha arrived in Britain. Karpeles visited them and encouraged them to sing their folk songs. In 1967 she published "Cecil Sharp: His Life and Work". In 1974 she published two substantial volumes: "Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs Vol 1 & 2". "The Crystal Spirit" (1975) is shorter version of the collection. Maud Karpeles died in 1976.

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