Commissioned by the New Music Group of Scotland with assistance from the Scottish Arts Council

  • fl(pic,afl)cl(bcl)/perc/pf/str(
  • Narrator
  • 19 min
  • arranged by the composer

Programme Note

I chose to set the text from the upper horizontal border of the Bayeux tapestry, which in my piece is declaimed severely by a narrator. For dramatic reasons, I made small alterations to the original text in places, repositioning one or two scenes, adding the occasional word, and translating the whole from Latin into English.

The story has a three-act structure: (1) the background to the Norman invasion of England in 1066, particularly the French contention that Harold of England had promised the English throne to William of Normandy; (2) the extensive technical preparations for the invasion; and (3) the Battle of Hastings and the death of King Harold.

In the original performances, the extensive percussion element consisted largely of post-industrial junk found around the streets of Glasgow and the shores of Fife, where the piece was written. For me, the instrumental music mirrors my reactions to the tapestry itself: at first, one is charmed by its cartoon-strip matchstick men, but on closer inspection, its content is found to be increasingly vicious.

© Copyright 1995 Judith Weir


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