• Judith Weir
  • Gentle Violence (1987)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Clive Conway and Gerald Garcia with funds from the Arts Council

  • picgtr
  • 8 min

Programme Note

These seven miniatures for piccolo and guitar date from the period when Judith Weir was putting the finishing touches to A Night at the Chinese Opera, with which they share many of the qualities of clarity, immediacy, brevity and wit, and reflect the composer's fascination with aspects of the culture of historical China.

Each movement relates to one of the postures of the Chinese martial art Tai Chi Ch'uan. As with all the more 'refined' varieties of traditional oriental combat, T'ai Chi Ch'uan is not merely a method of getting the better of an opponent, but contains elements of philosophical and even religious thought, and its postures draw upon observation of life, nature and theatre, hence the paradox implied in the title - violence done not merely by force, but by guile and, almost, by ritual. The sections are entitled:

1. Step up to form Seven Stars
2. Backstepping Monkey
3. Fair Lady throws the Shuttle
4. Bending Bow to shoot Tiger
5. Wild Horse flinging its Mane
6. Play the P'I Pa
7. As if Shut Up

Gentle Violence was commissioned by Clive Conway and Gerald Garcia with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. They gave the first performance at Wigmore Hall, London, on 10 April 1987.
© Giles Easterbrook 1988