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Photo: Boosey & Hawkes
The Fires of London, 1972

Maxwell Davies, Peter

Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969)

Duration: 33 minutes
Music-theatre work for male voice and ensemble

Text by Randolph Stow and George III (E,F,G)

Scoring
fl(=picc).cl-perc(1): railway whistle/SD/2susp.cym/foot cyms/2wdbl/ BD/chains/ratchet/tom-t/tam-t/tamb/rototoms/toy bird-calls/2tpl.bl/ wind chimes/crot/sleigh bells/glsp/steel bars/crow/didgeridoo- pft(=hpd,dulcimer)-vln.vlc.
Abbreviations (PDF).


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



World Premiere
4/22/1969
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Roy Hart, voice
Conductor: Peter Maxwell Davies
Company: Pierrot Players

Roles

KINGBaritone


Synopsis
Long established as a classic of music-theatre, the work is an extravagant, disturbing and poignant portrayal of madness. The king is George III of England - or maybe another madman who believes himself to be that monarch - vocalizing weirdly as he bemoans his fate and tries to teach his instrumentalist-birds to sing. The string and woodwind players are the captives of his insanity, intended to play from within giant cages, while the percussionist is his keeper, holding him within the confines of a maddened musical sensibility. But all the musicians are essentially projections from within his own mind. The focus is always on him, and on his wild vocal performances, which include various kinds of Sprechgesang, chords and a range of over four octaves. The virtuosity of the instrumentalists is no less, nor that of the composer in playing spikily over a range of eighteenth-century references.
by Paul Griffiths


Moods
Dramatic, Poetic, Tragic


Subjects
Contemporary, History, Society, Literary, Music/Arts


Recommended Recording
Julius Eastman, The Fires of London, Peter Maxwell Davies
Unicorn-Kanchana DKPCD9052

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Items on Sale

Eight Songs For A Mad KingStudy Score - Hawkes Pocket Score 1170> Details
Eight Songs for a Mad King(Vocal Score)> Details
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