Tune of the Day: Portsmouth
The earliest appearance of this tune is in the 11th edition of Henry Playford's The Dancing Master, dated 1701.
Over the last century, “Portsmouth” has achieved a revival of sorts among English country dancing aficionados. English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams used the melody as one of three for the basis of his march Sea Songs, originally arranged for military band in 1923 as the second movement of his English Folk Song Suite, and subsequently re-arranged for full orchestra in 1942.
In 1952, “Portsmouth” was used as the signature tune for BBC television series Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School.
Popular musician Mike Oldfield (of “Tubular Bells” fame) recorded an instrumental arrangement of the tune in 1976. Released as a single, it is Oldfield's highest charting single in the United Kingdom, where it reached number three.
Thanks to Phil for suggesting this tune!