Universal Edition - David Sawer – the greatest happiness principle

David Sawer


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David Sawer
the greatest happiness principle

Work Details

Year of composition: 1997
Scored for: for orchestra
Composer: David Sawer
Instrumentation: 3 2 3 2 - 4 3 4 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, str(12 10 8 8 6)
Instrumentation details: 3(2&3/picc, 3/alto)·2(2/eng hn)·3(2/Eb, 3/bcl)·2(2/cbn) - 4·3·4·1 - perc(3) - hp - strings (12 10 8 8 6)
Commissioned by: Commissioned by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Duration: 12′
Dedication: to Mark
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Audio Excerpt

the greatest happiness principle

World Première

Location: St. David's Hall Cardiff / Great Britain
Date: 06.06.1997
Orchestra: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth

Work Introduction

This piece was inspired by the utopian ideas of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, and especially by his application of the panoptic principle to prison design.

This design allowed an observer to observe all the prisoners without the prisoners themselves being able to tell whether they were being watched. The intention was to create a transparent system of self-regulation through constant surveillance.

I wanted the character of the piece to salute this governing idea, however halfway through its composition I recognised my own entrapment. Right at the end of the work the conductor relinquishes control and the orchestra enjoys a moment of abandonment.

David Sawer

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