• Geoffrey Burgon
  • The World Again (1983)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • 3(2pic)3(ca)3(bcl)3(cbn)4331timp.4perchp.pfstr
  • soprano
  • 23 min

Programme Note

Deeply have I slept
As one who hath gone down unto the springs
Of his existence and there bathed, I come
Regenerate up into the world again

T L Bedoes

Psychologists agree that dreaming is essential to our mental well-being. Artists have always been intuitively aware of this, and the above lines are one illustration of this awareness. Composers, as well as painters and writers, have frequently drawn upon the fantastical imagery of dreams, and The World Again is an attempt to convey some of the power of this imagery in music.

The work is cast in the shape of a rondo, with a coda which is really a summation of the piece. The ritornelli sections depict a dreamless sleep, and the episodes represent dreams. The ritornelli are based on a simple motif which is heard in either C major or minor, and never strays far from those keys.

The first ritornello begins with this motif high in the flutes and violins, and it slowly descends through the orchestra, gradually being subsumed in tremolandi. After a hesitant start, the first ‘dream’ episode develops into a three-bar passacaglia which builds to a violent climax and then subsides into the next ritornello, in which the opening motif is heard on winds followed by brass, against a background of string tremolandi.

The next episode which again begins hesitantly, is a scherzo and trio. Some of this music is almost a parody of music that we have come to associate with nightmare images derived from nineteenth century music through to the scores of early Hollywood film composers.

This episode subsides gradually into the next brief ritornelli, which leads, through a transitional episode, to the final coda section. This is a setting for soprano of Beddoes’ words. The effect of this section is to resolve the tensions of the earlier music, and it is marked serenissimo. After the soprano’s final words, the ritornello’s motif is heard again, this time climbing from the lower reaches of the orchestra to high oboes. And, after fleeting statements of some earlier material, the music fades to a tranquil close.

The World Again was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic and first performed by them on 9 October 1984 at the Royal Festival Hall with Jane Manning (soprano) and conducted by Andrew Litton.

In 1986 Christopher Bruce choreographed the work for the London Festival Ballet who gave the first performance on 18 July 1986 at the London Coliseum with the Orchestra of the London Festival Ballet with Sarah Leonard (soprano) and conducted by Graham Bond.