Friday, August 23, 2019

Peter Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King

Peter Maxwell Davies, best known in recent decades for his lovely Farewell to Stromness, used to write music that was far from lovely. It was music that depicted insanity.

I first heard this piece performed at Tanglewood when I was a teenager, and I was able to talk about it (and many other things musical) with the composer. Knowing Max as I did, I believe he would want me to post this video (complete with score) here since we are (and not just those of us living in the US) faced with the presence of a world leader who acts like a mad king.

Here's another fantastic performance of the piece where you can see the masked musicians playing, and you can follow the text with subtitles. You can watch a discussion between Kelvin Thomas and Michael McCarthy about the piece here.

Here's a Wikipedia article about the piece, and, for the sake of comparison, we can see that George III was no match for Trumposaurus Rex (T-Rex!) in the madness department. The current US president even makes Peter the Great look like a statesman.

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