Repertoire Search

Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

For the Time Being: Advent (1986)
commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Singers
Text Writer
W H Auden
Novello & Co Ltd
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
23 Minutes
Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales

Programme Note
Thea Musgrave For the Time Being: Advent (1986)

W. H. Auden published his long poem ‘For the Time Being’ in 1945. It is headed by a dedication to the poet’s mother who had died in 1941, and this quotation from Romans VI: ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.’ The poem is subtitled ‘A Christmas Oratorio’, and was written with the intention (never fulfilled) that it should be set to music by Auden’s regular collaborator at the time, Benjamin Britten.

This work is a setting of the whole of the first section of the poem, ‘Advent’, in a continuous 25-minute span. It respects the division into separate numbers implied by the layout of the poem, and includes a Narrator speaking the text of Part II, accompanied by the chorus singing fragments from the previous section, and echoing the Narrator’s ironic prayer.

The work was commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Singers, and fist performed by them at St John’s Smith Square in London on April 27th 1987, conducted by John Poole.

  • Ensemble
    New York Virtuoso Singers
    Michael York (narrator)
    Harold Rosembaum
"For the Time Being: Advent," (is) an absorbing setting of the first portion of W. H. Auden's brutal 1945 poem about the darkness and barbarism that had engulfed Europe. One particularly potent section featured (an actor) reciting the text in increasingly fevered tones above the swirling chorus. Ms. Musgrave's score is laced with carefully controlled dissonances that emerge from the surrounding textures, sting the ears and then retreat.
Jeremy Eichler, The New York Times,05/06/2003
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Enter your email address to keep up to date with the latest news and special offers from Music Sales Classical.
Your data is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Read our Privacy Policy

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2019 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.