• John McCabe
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Suite (1971)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Stonyhurst College

  • 1121/1210/timp.2perc/pf/str
  • 15 min

Programme Note

This Suite is drawn from the music of an opera in four acts, written to be performed largely by children and taken from the famous book by C.S. Lewis. The opening movement of the Suite is taken from the Prelude to Act 3 of the opera, in which the music depicts the coming of Spring to a land magically laid hitherto under the mantle winter. The second movement is one of several waltz tunes to be found in the opera; this particular one is the song of the faun Tumnus in which he states that his unwilling task it is to kidnap any strange children and hand them over to the White Witch under whose thrall the land lies. This song comes from Act 1. The remaining two movements of the Suite derive from Act 4, the Nocturne being a mood-piece (in the opera it accompanies a scene in which the Lion paces up and down restlessly on the eve of the great battle) and the march Finale being the triumphal music that accompanies the victory over the Witch and the resultant crowning of the children as the country's royalty. Most of the movements also use material from other parts of the opera: thus the Finale includes, as its Trio section, a tune in 7/4 time from Act 1 in which the Lion's character as saviour of the country is stated.

The opera was first performed at the 1969 Manchester Cathedral Festival, and the Suite by Stonyhurst College in 1971.

Programme note by John McCabe