Opera Scotland

Sea Symphony Symphony no1 'A Sea Symphony'

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Music

Ralph Vaughan Williams (born Down Ampney, 12 October 1872; died London, 26 August 1958)

Text

Composer

Source

Adapted from poetry anthology Leaves of Grass (various revisions) by Walt Whitman (1819-92)

 

Premieres

First Performance: Leeds (Town Hall), 1910.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Background

The first symphony by Vaughan Williams was created over a long period from 1903-1909 and performed at the following year's Leeds Festival. The composer conducted. He did work as a conductor throughout his life, particularly working with amateur choirs and worked at the Leith Hill Festival up to his death.

It was unusual at the time in using the singers from the very beginning - Mahler's Eighth, also premiered in 1910, is perhaps the greatest other example.

Walt Whitman was a popular poet, not just in his native USA. Several other works used his verse as source material. Sea Drift by Delius - for baritone, chorus and orchestra - was premiered in 1906.

 

Summary

There are four movements:

1 A Song for All Seas, All Ships (baritone, soprano, chorus)

2 On the Beach at Night, Alone (baritone, chorus)

3 Scherzo - The Waves (Chorus)

4 The Explorers (baritone, soprano, semi-chorus, chorus)

The Cast

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