• John McCabe
  • Paraphrase on 'Mary, Queen of Scots' (Study No 5) (1979)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Kelso Music Society with funds from the Scottish Arts Council

  • piano
  • 9 min

Programme Note

Commissioned by Kelso Music Society, Scotland, with the aid of funds provided by the Scottish Arts Council, this Study is the fifth in a series of concert works exploring particular aspects of either pianistic or compositional technique. It is both a Prelude and Fugue and, at the same time, an essay in writing within the tradition of the operatic Paraphrase so common in the 19th century and perfected especially by Liszt. In this instance, the themes are taken from my own ballet Mary, Queen of Scots (1974/5), written for Scottish Ballet, and they fall into two groups, representing the "personal" and the "public" aspects of Mary's life.

The Prelude takes its themes from an Interlude depicting Mary's life in her domestic circle - in the ballet, this precedes a scene including a Pas de Deux for Mary and Lord Darnley. In the faster Fugue the music derives from a Double Pas de Trois representing the public aspect, symbolised in the political battle of wills and clash of personalities between Mary and Queen Elizabeth I.

© 1997 by John McCabe