Lord Byron
Composer: Virgil Thomson
Composer Bio: Virgil Thomson (November 25, 1896 – September 30, 1989) was an American composer and music critic. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri and was a prodigious child, later studying the piano work of Erik Satie at Harvard. After studying for a year in Paris on a fellowship he returned to the city from 1925 – 1940 where he became friends with many prominent figures including James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, e.e. cummings, Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Orson Welles, and others. He studied with Nadia Boulanger. After publishing his book The State of Music he lived in New York working as a critic and composer for theatre and film. He became a mentor to a new generation of tonal composers including Ned Rorem, Paul Bowles, and Leonard Bernstein though pointedly ignored female composers. He received many awards during his life and was known as a modernist and neoclassical composer.
Librettist: Jack Larson
Other Artistic Personnel: John Houseman, Director; Gerhard Samuel, Conductor; Alvin Ailey, Coreographer
Original Cast: Original cast: Lord Byron, Grayson Hirst; Thomas Moore, Lenus Carlson; John Hobhouse, Walter Hook; John Murray, Frederick Schoepflin; Count Gamba, Frederick Burchinall; John Ireland, David Wilder; Augusta Leigh, Carolyn Val-Schmidt; Lady Byron, Lynne Wickenden; Countess Guiccioli, Hari Katz; Lady Melbourne, Barrie Smith
Premiere Date: April 20, 1972
Producing Company: Juilliard Theater, Lincoln Center
Description: Set in London in 1824, the work begins with Dean Ireland's refusal to allow Byron a burial in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Using the poet's denied burial as a framework for the piece, the work deals with significant episodes in Byron's life and introduces the three women who played pivotal roles in it: his wife, Annabella; his half-sister, Augusta Leigh; and his mistress, Countess Teresa Guiccioli. The opera is partly a series of flashbacks about Byron's scandalous sex life and partly about his friends' decision to burn the memoirs he sent to Thomas Moore.
Reviews: The Wall Street Journal, Mark Swed, 9-18-91; The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 2-24-86; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 12-9-85; The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 1-17-77; The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg, 4-22-72; The New York Times, Allen Hughes, 4-16-72; The New York Times, John Gruen, 4-9-72; The New York Times, Donal Henahan, 3-21-71; The New York Times, Allen Hughes, 11-28-65 (interview)
Length: 02:00
Total Acts: Not Available
Chorus: SATB chorus; male madrigal group of 6; boy's chorus
Orchestration: 2 fl(picc), 2 ob(Eng horn), 2 cl(bcl), 2 bsn - 4 hrn, 3 tpt, 2 tbn, tba - timp, perc, hp, org (off stage) - str
Musical Style: Tonal; lyrical; masterfully-written concerted music, duets, and trios; clear, spare orchestration of unmixed colors with an interplay of verbal and musical rhythms that is both intricate and subtle; minimalist use of small, well-crafted melodic cells
Contact: Peermusic Classical
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E-mail Address: PeerClassical@Peermusic.com
Phone: 212-265-3910, x. 17
Publisher Web Site: http://www.peermusicclassical.com
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

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