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Harrison Paul Birtwistle
1934 -
Great Britain
H.P. Birtwistle
Sir Harrison Birtwistle (15/07/1934) is a British composer, born in Accrington, United Kingdom. His interest in music was encouraged by his mother, who bought him a clarinet when he was seven, and arranged for him to have lessons with the local bandmaster. He became proficient enough to play in the local military-style band, and also played in the orchestra which accompanied Gilbert and Sullivan productions and the local choral society's performances of Messiah. Birtwistle composed from around this time, later describing his early pieces as 'sub Vaughan Williams'.
In 1952 he entered the Royal Manchester College of Music in Manchester on a clarinet scholarship. While there he came in contact with a talented group of contemporaries including Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, John Ogdon and Elgar Howarth. In 1965 a Harkness Fellowship gave him the opportunity to continue his studies at Princeton University where he completed the opera Punch and Judy. This work, together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time, established Birtwistle as an important voice in British music. In 1975 Birtwistle became musical director of the newly established Royal National Theatre in London, a post he held until 1983. He has been honoured with a knighthood (1988) and as a Companion of Honour (2001). From 1994 to 2001 he was Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King's College London. Birtwistle was the 1987 recipient of the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. In 1995 he was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.
The Moth Requiem
Period:21st century
Composed in:2012
Musical form:free
Label(s):Signum Classics SIGCD 368
The Moth Requiem, for twelve female voices and an unusual – but again typically Birtwistlian – accompanying ensemble of alto flute and three harps. By now we might be beginning to recognise Birtwistlian fingerprints in the treatment of voices, too: here again each voice has a separate part, and only occasionally do they join (usually into four groups of three). The word-setting is also highly original, with the poem at the work’s centre split in hocket fashion between different lines so that each singer sustains one syllable as nother commences the next; audibility of the text, as often in these works, is far from central to Birtwistle’s expressive intentions.
Source:Booklet of cd Signum Records
Contributor:Arye Kendi
Moth names included in the text:
Scopula immorata
Depressaria discipunctella
Leucodonta bicoloria
Paranthrene tabaniformis
Isturgia limbaria
Acronicta auricoma
Laelia coenosa
Costaconvexa polygrammata
Borkhausenia minutella
Eremobina pabulatricula
Kessleria fasciapennella
Source:Booklet of cd Signum Records