Friday, June 15, 2018

Threatre of the Mind

No. 282 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT  series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


This week's Blog and Podcast revisits a topic I discussed and illustrated on a Tuesday Blog back in October of 2012. Here are the musings I used at that time, adapted for this week's montage.

The music selections I chose to explore today are, in a sense, speculative works – that is to say, works written (one could think) in anticipation of a stage work. All of the pieces I chose are intended either to depict stage music, or suggest stage music, whilst not necessarily designed to accompany any specific stage work – other, maybe, than the type of stage performance, be it a theatrical play, a ballet or an opera.

Let’s start with the opera selection. Canadian composer Alexina Louie is both fairly prolific and has shown throughout her work a keen sense of imagination. The work she composed as a commission for the French contemporary Ensemble Court-Circuit is a work that provides both the flow and texture of opera with the Far-Eastern flair that betrays Ms. Louie’s ancestry. An escellent description of the piece is provided by Ms Louie as notes to her score at the Canadian Music Centre.

Ballet seems to be a popular subject for “imagined” stage music. I chose works by England’s Samuel Coledridge-Taylor and Canada’s André Mathieu that could very well have been used to accompany both traditional and contemporary dance choreographies.

In the theatrical genre, a pair of works by two composers who produced their fair share of stage music. Canada’s Healey Willan contributed to well over 40 stage works of all kinds (The Beggar's Opera, Brébeuf Deirdre, many stage works for Hart House Theatre, etc.). His Overture for an Unwritten Comedy was written for a CBC 1940’s radio talent competition Opportunity Knocks.

Aaron Copland also made his fair share of stage and film music contributions: The Tender Land, stage and film version s of plays by John Steinbeck and others. His Music of the Theatre and the Piano Concerto (1926) were both composed for and given their first performance by legendary Boston Symphony conductor, Serge Koussevitzky.

I think you will love this music too!

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