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Maxwell Davies, Peter: The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976) 82'
Chamber opera in nine scenes

Music Text

Libretto by the composer after the novel by George Mackay Brown (E,G)

Scoring

M,T,2Bar,B fl(=picc,afl).cl(=bcl)-hn.2tpt-perc(1):marimba/glsp/crot/2SD/ rototoms/2BD/pedal timp/2Chin.cym/2susp.cym(bowed)/ Burmese nipple gongs/2Japanese gongs/tam-t(with soapdish)/blackboard/ sandpaper/3 pairs claves (played by singers off-stage)-keyboards(1): hpd,keyboard carillon (or cel),cel,autoharp (or zither),upright pft,( =flex,railway whistle)-guitar(=tabor)-vla.vlc.db

Abbreviations (PDF)

Territory

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

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For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.


World Premiere

18/06/1977
St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney
Murray Melvin, director / The Fires of London / Peter Maxwell Davies

Repertoire Note

by Paul Griffiths

Magnus was a twelfth-century earl of the Orkney Islands, a Viking unusual for his pacifism, martyred in a dynastic struggle. The opera is a presentation of his story, based on George Mackay Brown's novel Magnus and devised to be played continuously, with a quite simple, stylized staging. In form the opera is somewhat liturgical, though often fiercely dramatic in its action and in its vocal comportment. The instrumental writing, too, is thoroughly virtuoso, being intended for The Fires of London with guitar and brass.



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