In celebration of Geoffrey Burgon’s 78th birthday last week we are presenting the Nunc Dimittus which he wrote for John Irvin’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Television series for the BBC in 1979 making this year it’s 40th anniversary. This work is as popular today as it was then, when it received an Ivor Novello Award for the best music score.
Jane Sheldon gives a stellar performance of the Nunc Dimittus in her debut album which we have featured here.
Geoffrey Burgon’s 1979 score to Testament of Youth continues to be captivating and memorable, Starring Cheryl Campbell and Emrys James. The new remake with the remarkable Alicia Vikander is also spellbinding and of course needs to be watched.
Photo taken on route to America for the Shirtless Stephen And The Children’s Crusade Premiere in New York, 2003.
A Child’s View of Colour World Premiere Transient Glory 92nd Street, New York,
Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Nuñez, conductor.
The text for Shirtless Stephen is a set of poems written for a radio play about the children’s crusade written by Peter Porter in 1974, and broadcast the same year by the BBC. For production, I set the first poem, calling it The Crusader’s March, and wrote several pieces of incidental music. When I was asked to write a piece for The Young People’s Chorus, I realised that the subject matter of this play would be ideal and so I have set the five poems that it contains. The first song tells of the children’s leader and is in the form of a march, The music of the second song is gentler, depiucting an evening on the journey. The march is resumed in the third song and illustates the children’s resolve. The text of the fourth song is a letter of advice from The Virgin to Stephen. ‘Stephen’s Final Resolve’ is the title of the final poen, which begins ‘Where is Jerusalem?’, and ends ‘I shall make death a dream’.
It is a great honour that the Head of brass David Blackadder, who has also been invited to play at the Royal Wedding, and 14-year-old pupil Ischia Gooda performed Geoffrey Burgon’s Nunc Dimittis at the school’s chapel. We all wish Prince Harry and Meghan Markle great happiness.
Longitude was a 2000 TV drama produced by Granada Television and the A&E Network for Channel 4, first broadcast between 2 and 3 January 2000 in the UK on Channel 4 and the US on A&E. It was a dramatisation of the 1995 book of the same title by Dava Sobel. It was written and directed by Charles Sturridge and stars Michael Gambon as clockmaker John Harrison (1693–1776) and Jeremy Irons as horologist Rupert Gould (1890–1948) and Geoffrey Burgon composer (1941-2010).
Geoffrey wrote Goldberg’s Dreams for Bob Cohan’s London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1975. Geoffrey woke up from a dream where he heard Bach’s Goldberg Variations being played in the other room. He had been studying Jung and was experimenting with his art combining dreams with reality. It was after this dream that he began this work.
It has a playfulness about it and the humour is in the fact that Bach wrote Goldberg Variations for the Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Kaiserling, who often stopped in Leipzig and brought there with him the aforementioned Goldberg, in order to have him given musical instruction by Bach. The Count was often ill and had sleepless nights. At such times, Goldberg, who lived in his house, had to spend the night in an antechamber, so as to play for him during his insomnia. …This is one of my favourite dance works by Geoffrey and we found it in the archive on an old cassette.
So here from the dream state of Mr. Burgon, please enjoy Goldberg’s Dream.
One of my favourite modern English composers, Geoffrey Burgon. Burgon composed The Assumption in 2001 it’s a deceptively simple piece of music in which each of the eminently singable four voice lines combine to produce a piece of music that greatly exceeds the sum of its parts. As well as being a lovely piece of music it shows Burgon’s abiding interest in and affinity with early English texts. Pre-reformation England was famous for its devotion to the Virgin Mary. This devotion was notable from the earliest times and long predated even Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham‘s sermons and the Blickling Homilies. The text ‘Come my swete, come my flower’ is early medieval and consists of a dialogue between Christ and his mother in which Christ calls her up to heaven and she responds with eagerness and love. It’s a charming setting of a charming text sung beautifully by the Wells Cathedral Choir conducted by Matthew Owens. Enjoy .
Geoffrey Burgon would have been 75 today. A new album is being produced of his works that will be part of many new releases in the future by this prolific and dynamic composer. Keep in touch to hear the news and music you have never heard before.