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Universal Edition - Sir Harrison Birtwistle

Sir Harrison Birtwistle
*15.07.1934

Future Performances

Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum
26.10.2014, Hannover (D)
Nenia: The Death of Orpheus
26.10.2014, Hannover (D)
Songs by Myself
26.10.2014, Hannover (D)
Secret Theatre
07.11.2014, Cambridge (GB)
Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum
08.11.2014, Cambridge (GB)

News

  • 14.10.2014
    Live: Punch and Judy
    Live: Punch and Judy

    Director Leonard Prinsloo’s and conductor Walter Kobéra’s new production of Harrison Birtwis [...]

  • 15.09.2014
    The Triumph of Time
    The Triumph of Time

    But the music’s real triumph lies in its unfaltering sense of movement. […] From start to fin [...]

  • 05.09.2014
    A Portrait of Sir Harrison Birtwistle at the Proms
    A Portrait of Sir Harrison Birtwistle at the Proms

    Despite a recent heated discussion regarding the BBC and new music, it is good to have Harrison B [...]

  • 18.07.2014
    Harrison Birtwistle on BBC Radio 3 and Ö1
    Harrison Birtwistle on BBC Radio 3 and Ö1

    The strength of Birtwistle’s music, and his way of showing time passing at different speeds are [...]

  • 15.07.2014
    Happy 80th Birthday Harrison Birtwistle
    Happy 80th Birthday Harrison Birtwistle

    Celebrations for Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th already took place earlier this year with the Barbi [...]

  • 11.07.2014
    Two angry men: Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies
    Two angry men: Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies

    Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph has written an article on the differences and similarities of Sir Ha [...]

  • 13.05.2014
    Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 80
    Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 80

    The Barbican Centre honours Harrison Birtwistle with several events, Punch and Judy will be perfo [...]

  • 05.05.2014
    Harrison Birtwistle: Notes from the end of a garden
    Harrison Birtwistle: Notes from the end of a garden

    In his 80th year, Harrison Birtwistle agreed to let his godson, the wildlife filmmaker Tom Mustil [...]

  • ecme
    18.02.2014
    Bedford and Birtwistle performed in Egypt
    Bedford and Birtwistle performed in Egypt

    Rossen Gergov conducts the Egyptian première of Igor, The Bird Who Couldn’t Sing and a perform [...]

  • Harrison Birtwistle (c) Universal Edition
    15.05.2012
    Harrison Birtwistle: Bow Down
    Harrison Birtwistle: Bow Down
    Bow Down, Harrison Birtwistle’s music-theatre work from 1977 employs 5 actors and 4 musicians to t [...]
  • Harrison Birtwistle
    01.04.2011
    Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy in Geneva
    Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy in Geneva
    The Grand Théâtre de Genève is now showing the joint production by the English National Opera and [...]
 

Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Composer

Sir Harrison Birtwistle was born in Accrington in the north of England in 1934 and studied clarinet and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music, making contact with a highly talented group of contemporaries including Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, John Ogdon and Elgar Howarth. In 1965 he sold his clarinets to devote all his efforts to composition, and travelled to Princeton as a Harkness Fellow where he completed the opera Punch and Judy. This work, together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time, firmly established Birtwistle as a leading voice in British music.

The decade from 1973 to 1984 was dominated by his monumental lyric tragedy The Mask of [...]

About the Music

The anecdote may be apocryphal but it has a symbolic value: the world premiere of Punch and Judy, Harrison Birtwistle’s “tragical comedy or comical tragedy”, on 8 June 1968 in Aldeburgh, was attended by Benjamin Britten. Apparently, at one point, Britten could not bear it any longer and left his box before the performance ended. Twenty-one years lie between the births of the two composers – not quite a generation but enough to make them representatives of two wholly different worlds. The older composer just could not find access to that of his younger colleague.

Britten and Birtwistle have one thing in common: unlike some of their compatriots, both have made it across the [...]

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