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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

For the Time Being: Advent (1986)
commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Singers
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
1986
Duration
23 Minutes
Chorus
SATB
Soloist
Narrator
Availability


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

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
    Soloist(s)
    Michael York (narrator)
    Conductor
    Harold Rosembaum
Performances
Date
Title
Reviews
"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,6/5/2003
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