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Sir Harrison Birtwistle: For O, for O, the Hobby-Horse is Forgot

  • Ceremony (1976)
  • for 6 percussionists
  • Duration: 20’20”
  • Composer: Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Table of contents:
    For o, for o, the hobbyhorse is forgot - Ceremony for six percussionists
  • Dedication: Dedicated to Andrew Rosner
  • Commission: Commissioned by Les Percussions de Strasbourg


Work specifications


Publication Information

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Work introduction

The name of this piece is a quote from Act III, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; as so often with Birtwistle, elements of instrumental music theatre are prominent – no wonder, then, that he subtitled the work “A Ceremony for Six Percussionists:”

Two of the percussionists, as it were playing the roles of the King and the Queen, are positioned at either side of the stage, separate from the other four musicians, who appear as a group. The King and the Queen are the guides through the performance; their theatrical aspect is reinforced by the way the sticks are used to play the instruments.


World première

Tokyo (JP)
Les Percussions de Strasbourg

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