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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Triptych (1959)
commissioned by the Saltire Society
Text Writer
Chaucer
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
1959
Duration
11 Minutes
Language
English
Soloist
tenor


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Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Triptych (1959)
The first sketches for the Triptych were made in the summer of 1958 in response to a commission from the Saltire Music Group and the work was completed just over a year later.

Though the work as a whole obviously had to follow the form of the Chaucer poem, the organization of the musical details provided a stimulating problem: it was necessary to find a musical design which would not obscure the strong effect made by the repeated lines of each of the three poems. To avoid spoiling the effect of this repetition I decided not to repeat lines or phrases except when called for by the text. However the mood and also the musical form is different in each of the songs.

The first song has clearly contrasting sections and makes use of musical repetition. It is easy to detect a return to the first idea each time it returns, even though it is somewhat varied.

The second song contains identical repetitions of the opening musical idea - a phrase for orchestra introducing a theme for the voice with slow, heavy repeated notes. At the end these repeated notes are taken up chordally by the orchestra and with a gradual crescendo and accelerando form a big climax.

The last song has no musical repetition in this sense. A short, fast, scherzo-like movement, it has an almost unbroken background of semiquavers (16th notes), divided between harp, celeste, vibraphone, pizzicato violas and bongos, which accompany a light rhythmical vocal line. Another feature of this movement is the number of sudden pauses. There are no ritardandi, not even at the end; here, instead, there is a gradual diminuendo as the semiquavers fade away into the distance.

Triptych was first performed at a BBC Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1960.




Performances
Date
Title
  • 22 JUN 2009
    Glasgow
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • 07 JUN 2008
    St Mary's Beaminster, Dorset
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • 09 AUG 2002
    Triptych UK Premiere
    BBC Composer of the Week
    BBC Music
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Christopher Austin, conductor
  • 05 AUG 2002
    BBC Composer of the Week
    UK
    Scottish National Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson; Sir Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 21 NOV 2000
    Beijing
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • 18 NOV 2000
    Triptych Country Premiere
    Shanghai
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • 20 MAY 2000
    Triptych World Premiere
    Colburn School, Los Angeles
    Colburn School
    Daniel Lewis, conductor

    Other Dates:
    21 May - Colburn School, Los Angeles
  • 08 MAY 2000
    Dortmund, Germany
    Philharmonisches Orchester Dortmund

    Other Dates:
    9,10 May - Dortmund, Germany
  • 01 MAY 1988
    Studio Recording
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Neil Mackie, tenor; Norman Del Mar, conductor
  • 01 MAY 1988
    UK
    BBC SSO
    Neil Mackie; Norman Del Mar, conductor
  • 08 SEP 1976
    BBC Proms
    Royal Albert Hall, London
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Neil Mackie; Christopher Seaman, conductor
  • 08 SEP 1976
    BBC Proms 1976
    Royal Albert Hall, London
    BBC SSO
    Neil Mackie; Christopher Seaman, conductor
  • 16 JAN 1967
    BBC Scotland
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson, tenor; James Loughran, conductor
  • 16 JAN 1967
    UK
    BBC SSO
    Duncan Robertson; James Loughran, conductor
  • 11 SEP 1966
    BBC Music
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson, tenor; Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 11 SEP 1966
    UK
    Scottish National Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson; Sir Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 22 NOV 1965
    BBC 3
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson, tenor; Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 22 NOV 1965
    UK
    BBC SSO
    Duncan Robertson; Sir Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 28 NOV 1960
    BBC Scotland
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson, tenor; Norman Del Mar, conductor
  • 28 NOV 1960
    UK
    BBC SSO
    Duncan Robertson; Norman Del Mar, conductor
  • 14 SEP 1960
    Triptych World Premiere
    BBC Proms
    Royal Albert Hall, London
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Duncan Robertson, tenor; Meredith Davies, conductor
  • 14 SEP 1960
    BBC Proms 1960
    Royal Albert Hall, London
    LSO
    Duncan Robertson; Meredith Davies, conductor

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