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The composer, Ernest Derby, published a collection of music, entitled “Three Serbian Songs”, in 1916. The titles of the individual pieces – “Lado”, “The Defender” and “The Plum Tree” – are based on Serbian poems, and the music is dedicated to the People of Serbia. Plums are the floral emblem and national fruit of Serbia, and plum brandy (“Šljivovica“) is Serbia’s national drink.

The lyrics to the musics were written by Kineton Parkes, Ernest Darby’s brother-in-law. Together with his wife, Florence, Ernest had set up the Wolverhampton School of Music, initially based in Darlington Street, and later moving to 27 Chapel Ash.

The outbreak of the First World War meant that the School of Music scaled back their activities, and Darby became a Special Constable. But he was clearly still composing, and this piece was one of his outputs during this period. It is believed that he wanted to honour the Serbian people because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, which triggered the outbreak of the First World War.

More details about these songs, and about Ernest Derby, have been written up by Phil Jones.

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