Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In Memorium, Composer And Music Dramatist Nicholas Maw

Photo credit: (c) Nicholette Hallett via Boosey and Hawkes website. Copyright controlled.


Almost thirty years ago, Mr Maw's song-cycle La Vita Nuova, based upon Renaissance poems, was premiered in London with Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano, and the Nash Ensemble under conductor Mark Elder. Many of Mr Maw's works were performed in Washington, D.C. -- where he resided much of each year in nearby Takoma Park -- over the past 25 years.


"I'm becoming more and more concerned with what music has lost, with the things a composer can't do any more. I want to be able to do them again... There was a break in the natural tradition around 1914, for obvious social and political reasons... It seems that I am trying to regain that tradition." — Nicholas Maw


"What I want to do is sing the great song of our existence on this planet," he told The Washington Post in 1992. "It's a ludicrous ambition, but it's one of the few that are worth trying."


'All I can say is that I came to the book through the film and was instantly struck by its potential to be something more. With music. Not everyone agreed. When I first suggested the idea to Covent Garden they turned it down: it took years to change their minds. But for me it has everything. It's intimate, it's grand. It's the history of how the world suffered in the 20th Century, put in personal terms. And the intensity of William Styron's characters, of what he's given Sophie to experience and suffer - if this isn't the business of opera, what is?'


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