Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Down by the Greenwood Side

Sir Harrison Birtwistle Down by the Greenwood Side
Down by the Greenwood Side

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Down by the Greenwood Side

Year of composition:
1968/1969
Subtitle:
A Dramatic Pastoral
Composer:
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Librettist:
Michael Nyman (06.03.1970)
Roles:
Mrs. Green, soprano Father Christmas / St. George / Bold Slasher / Dr. Blood, speaker Jack Finney, mime
Instrumentation:
1 0 1 1 - 0 0 1 0 - perc(1), cornet, euph, vln(1), vc(1)
Instrumentation details:
fl (+ picc, Afl), cl(Bb) (+ cl(Eb), bass cl), bs (+ cbsn) - cornet(Bb), tbn, Euph - perc(1), vln(1), vc(1)
Commission:
Commissioned by Ian Hunter for the Brighton Festival Society
Duration:
30’
More Less

Audiosamples

Down by the Greenwood Side
00:00

Work introduction

Down by the Greenwood Side was commissioned fort he 1969 Brighton Festival. The text comes from two sources: a popular ballad called “The Cruel Mother”, and passages from various mummer plays, the folk plays of the English countryside. The soprano, Mrs. Green, sings the ballad while the actors and mime perform the play. The two ingredients never meet; both are completely self-contained, involved only in themselves. But near the end, in the final tableau, there is a slight acknowledgement of each other’s worlds when the presenter of the mummers’ play, Father Christmas, completes the story Mrs. Green has been telling, and Mrs. Green momentarily enters the mummers’ acting area.

Programme Notes by Michael Hall

BBC Proms 1972

From our online shop

World première

Location:
Brighton
Date:
08.05.1969
Conductor:
David Atherton

Other works

Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.