Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 80

Reading time: 3 min. Harrison Birtwistle

In celebration of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday on 17 July, the Barbican Centre has announced its Birtwistle at 80 season, which starts on 16 May. The composer’s 80th birthday will be celebrated with several performances of his works, including Gawain, Earth Dances and Yan Tan Tethera.

Furthermore, the Barbican Centre has released three podcasts that take a close look at the music, the myth and the man that is Harrison Birtwistle. Listen to them on the Barbican’s SoundCloud page.

Boosey [&] Hawkes has created a six-hour long playlist that is entitled Birtwistle: on Boosey [&] Hawkes / Universal Edition. Listen to it on Spotify.

Punch and Judy at the Neue Oper WienDirector Leonard Prinsloo and conductor Walter Kobéra will stage a new production of Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy at the Neue Oper Wien.

The “tragical comedy or comical tragedy in 1 act” premières on 25 May and runs until 5 June. For further performance details, see below.

View the full score of Punch and Judy.

Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks – A Conversation Diary With Fiona Maddocks

Fiona Maddocks’ Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks – A Conversation Diary With Fiona Maddocks will be published on 15 May.

Read an extract from the upcoming book on The Guardian.

As part of the aforementioned Birtwistle at 80 celebration, the composer will be in conversation with Fiona Maddocks at the Barbican on Sunday 25 May.

NMC Recordings: GawainOn 19 May NMC Recordings will rerelease a recording of Gawain, which was originally recorded live by BBC Radio 3 at the Royal Opera House and published by Collins Classics.

Find out more on the website of NMC Recordings.

View the full score of Gawain.

Earlier this year, Harrison Birtwistle agreed to let his godson, the wildlife filmmaker Tom Mustill, spend time with him in his home, his beautiful garden and the shed in which he composes. The resulting filmed portrait is a touching study of a composer’s solitary, strange and satisfying life as well as being an invaluable record of Harrison Birtwistle’s working methods.

Watch the video on Sinfini Music.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Gawain
Opera in 2 acts
16.05.2014, Barbican, London; Leigh Melrose, Gawain; Sir John Tomlinson, The Green Knight; Laura Aiken, Morgan Le Fay; Jennifer Johnston, Lady de Hautdesert; Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts, King Arthur; John Graham Hall, A Fool; Rachel Nicholls, Guinevere; William Towers, Bishop Baldwin; BBC Singers; BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Martyn Brabbins

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Earth Dances
for orchestra | 38'
20.05.2014, Barbican Hall, London; London SO, cond. Daniel Harding

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Cantata
for soprano and instruments | 11'
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Monody for Corpus Christi
for soprano, flute, violin and horn | 12'
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: 4 Poems by Jaan Kaplinski
for soprano and 13 instruments | 9'
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Silbury Air
for chamber ensemble | 15'
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Tragoedia
for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, harp and string quartet | 21'
25.05.2014, Barbican, London; Katrien Baerts, s; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, cond. Oliver Knussen

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Yan Tan Tethera
A Mechanical Pastoral | 90'
29.05.2014, Barbican, London; Britten Sinfonia, cond. Baldur Brönnimann

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: The Fields of Sorrow
for 2 sopranos, 8-part choir and instruments | 9'
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Melencolia I
for clarinet, harp and 2 string orchestras | 24'
30.05.2014, Barbican, London; Britten Sinfonia Voices; Britten Sinfonia, cond. Baldur Brönnimann

Harrison Birtwistle: Punch and Judy
A tragical comedy or comical tragedy in 1 act | 110'
22.05.2014, Neue Oper Wien; Jennifer Yoon, Pretty Polly (witch); Manuela Leonhartsberger, Judy (fortune-teller); Richard Rittelmann, Punch; Lorin Wey, Lawyer; Till von Orlowsky, Choregos (Jack Ketch); Johannes Schwendinger, Doctor; Evamaria Mayer, Dancer; Amadeus ensemble-wien, cond. Walter Kobéra
Further performances: 25.05., 28.05., 03.06., 05.06.2014

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Earth Dances
for orchestra | 38'
21. and 22.05.2014, Musikhuset, Helsinki; Radion sinfoniaorkesteri, cond. Hannu Lintu

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Dinah and Nick’s Love Song
for 3 melody instruments and harp | 5'
12.06.2014, Philharmonie, Berlin; Berliner Philharmoniker, cond. Mariss Jansons
further performances: 13. and 14.06.2014

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