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Michael Nyman

Publisher: Chester Music

a dance he little thinks of (2001),
Commissioned by the Yorkshire Orchestral Consortium supported by Yorkshire Arts
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
2001
Duration
15 Minutes
Programme Note
Michael Nyman a dance he little thinks of (2001),
A commission from and for Yorkshire orchestras demands a Yorkshire hero - who better than York-born, Coxwold and Stillington resident Lawrence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy - a novel I have been trying to turn into an opera since 1981. After writing THE ABBESS OF ANDOUILLETS, I’LL STAKE MY CREMONA TO A JEW’S TRUMP and NOSE-LIST SONG in the 80s, it was a pleasure to have an excuse to return to Sterne’s novel with an orchestral work which, however, explodes the rather well-behaved, quasi 18th century feel of my earlier Tristram Shandy settings. And - as with Cremona - the subject is death (as it is in a considerable part of my output - for example, SONGS FOR TONY, TANGO FOR TIM, MEMORIAL, TO MORROW and so on) as it is conjured up by Sterne in Book VII, Chapter 1:
‘When DEATH himself knocked at my door - ye bad him come again; and in so gay a tone of careless indifference, did ye do it, that he doubted of his commission.....then by heaven! I will lead him a dance he little thinks of....’

The work is in three movements of which the outer two are both fast and possibly dance-like. The third movement is linked to the second by a common augmented 4th bass part and to the first by the use of identical percussion rhythms (which refuse to conform to rhythmic straightjackets).

© Michael Nyman
May 2001



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