• Geoffrey Burgon
  • The Wanderer (1998)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Pembroke College for their 650th anniversary

  • Clarinet; srt4tet
  • Clarinet

Programme Note

The Wanderer

My idea in writing this piece was to depict a journey. The title comes from a poem of that name by W.H. Auden. I have used one or two simple musical ideas and transformed them as the journey progresses through different moods and landscapes. I had come across the Auden poem whilst searching out texts for a vocal work, and it was ideal as a programme for this piece because it is a quite dramatic journey, a mini-saga, full of incident and extreme contrast. The music is similarly dramatic, moving between extremes of tempo and dynamics. The clarinet is treated not so much as a solo instrument, more as a member of the ensemble, its timbre either blending or contrasting with that of the strings. It is in seven sections, played without a break.
Geoffrey Burgon 1998.

This work was commissioned by Pembroke College, Cambridge to celebrate the 600th anniversary of' their foundation. It was first performed at St. John's Smith Square, London on the 18th of March 1998 by Emma Johnson and the Vanbrugh Quartet.

The Wanderer

Doom is dark and deeper than any sea dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud- soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.

There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him. through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.

Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger's leap at corner;
Protect his house.
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching. with leaning dawn.

W.H. Auden duration c. 16 minutes