Who are your favourite British composers
My Top Ten Favorite British Composers:
1. Ralph Vaughan-Williams
2. Benjamin Britten
3. Frederick Delius
4. John Dowland
5. Henry Purcell
6. James MacMillan
7. Herbert Howells
8. Thomas tallis
9. John Taverner
10. Arnold Bax
Other composers of note: Edward Elgar, John Moeran, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, John Sheppard, John Cooper (AKA Giovanni Coprario), John Field, William Walton, Gerald Raphael Finzi, Granville Bantock, John Tavener, John Rutter, and the composers of the Eton Choirbook (John Browne, Richard Davy, Walter Lambe, etc...). Obvious Handel would be no. 1... but I'll stick with him as German.
Now what's with the British composers and the name "John"?
For a long time, I don't think British culture took music of their own country very seriously, or music at all; it came with their rejection of metaphysics, something that they saw music embodied. Their culture focused more on poetry and literature...
I agree with this to a certain extent... and I would point out that the visual arts were just as neglected in a sense in Britain after the Renaissance... or even the Gothic... until the Romantic period. I suspect that much of this has to do with the iconoclasm of the Protestants. At the same time... while Britain failed to develop its own native geniuses in painting, sculpture, and music, they were incredibly supportive of the arts and of artists from abroad. I think here of painters such as Hans Holbein, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens, Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto), Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Henry Fuseli (all of whom spent extended periods of time in England... and sold many paintings to English buyers). In music we have not only Handel and his singers and his competitors, but also the development of first rate public theaters and orchestras. Haydn and Beethoven both benefited from English commissions... and Mozart unfortunately turned down an offer similar to that of Haydn.