The Songs of Milne on Radio 4

My uncle aged 5, 1925

I was interviewed by the pianist John Kember for a Radio 4 programme (aired 19 June 2012) about the songs made from AA Milne’s children’s verses by the composer Harold Fraser-Simpson. This was a thought-provoking exercise which got me pondering how much cultural ‘icons’ really impinge on individuals’ experience. My mother, born as Milne’s books were being published, had also heard the songs growing up but didn’t feel they were central to her childhood; not in the same way as the popular songs enjoyed by adults. Perhaps they form part of the class of artefacts designed for children rather than chosen by them and not satisfying either adult or child tastes. Perhaps their appeal is founded on reminiscence of past childhoods rather than observation of current ones, so they they need to be slightly out of date in order to be effective. We should be wary of assuming that because a work was first published in a given year it represents the culture of that year and would be recognised by people who had lived through the period.

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