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John McCabe

Publisher: Novello & Co

Epithalamium (Study No 11: Homage to Mussorgsky) (2006)
Commissioned by John Sell and dedicated to Jane Wade and Malcolm Binns
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
12 Minutes

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Programme Note
John McCabe Epithalamium (Study No 11: Homage to Mussorgsky) (2006)
View sample pages at ScoresOnDemand
Epithalamium was commissioned by John Sell as a birthday present for his
wife Jane, and is dedicated to her and to Malcolm Binns. It was written during summer
2006 and derived from the two great chords that swing to and fro during the
Coronation Scene in Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov. These provide a series of
seven notes (heard in the quick flourishes after the opening chords) which provide the
basis for the tunes and the harmonies through most of the work. The idea of bell
sounds is carried through not only the chords during the piece but also some of the
techniques (e.g. the gradually changing repeated patterns, rather like bell-ringing
changes, encountered towards the end, or the quiet and distant, uneven
tintinnabulation heard at the end of the central slow section). An epithalamium (or
epithalamion) is a song or poem in honour of a bride and bridegroom – though
technically a wedding piece, it seemed an appropriate title for a work honouring an
anniversary, especially one where bell-sounds provided the original inspiration.

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