• Judith Weir
  • Horse d'Oeuvres (1996)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • 1.1(ca).1+bcl.11010percpfvc.db
  • Mezzo soprano
  • 11 min
  • Judith Weir
  • (1) Lawrence Ferlinghetti (2) anon. Scottish folk text (3) Wang Wei (8th Century Chinese)
  • English

Programme Note

1. Don't let that horse
2. On buying a horse
3. Hold your horse

Much of my non-operatic work for solo voice occupies an area between folk music and cabaret. In 1990 I began a personal project, which is still going on today, to write as many songs as I could with the word 'horse' in the title. This short preliminary set was collected together and orchestrated for a Spitalfields Festival concert in 1996. It was written for the soprano Jane Manning, her ensemble Jane's Minstrels and their conductor Roger Montgomery.

'Don't let that horse', to a poem by the beat poet Laurence Ferlinghetti, evokes the American art scene at its most fashionable; 'On buying a horse' is about peasant cunning, and reminds me of old farming people I knew when I was a child; 'Hold your horse', a T'ang lyric, conjures up exquisite regret [and seems to copy, in miniature, the scene described at the end of Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde'].

As my 'horse' series progresses, I realise that it is a way of describing the world's vast variety, and that the horse in each song is merely a four-footed object in the foreground of every scene.
© Judith Weir

Don't let that horse

Don't let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall's mother
But he
kept right on
And became famous
And kept on painting
The Horse With Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across
And there were no strings

Laurence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919)
(Please ask for reproduction permission at New Directions Publishing Group)

On buying a horse

One white foot, try him;
Two white feet, buy him;
Three white feet, put him in the dray;
Four white feet, give him away;
Four white feet and a White nose,
Take off hide and feed him to the crows


Hold your horse

Hold your horse-our good-bye
Palace moat- clear and cold
Ahead of you-distant hills
Grief you go-alone away

Wang Wei

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