• John Tavener
  • Six Abbasid Songs (1979)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Sir Peter Pears

  • 3fl(afl)perc
  • tenor
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Sir Peter Pears had asked me many years ago to write some songs for him. This unique opportunity evaded me for some time, since I was unable to find a text.

Last year, while spending Easter in Athens, I was presented with a book of poetry from the Abbasid dynasty. Abbasid culture, entered in Baghdad in the 8th - 10th centuries AD, was much influenced by those of Persia, India and Greece, and the literature it produced was rich and diverse.

Certainly I was struck immediately by these lyrics, with their succinct, terse, direct style; and I have set six, about love, death and irony. The fourth and fifth songs are separated by interludes for unaccompanied flute.

The songs are scored for three flutes and percussion and are dedicated with my love to Sir Peter.

John Tavener