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I am already projecting another concert of my works. It is to be preceded by my string quartet, which will give the second performance of my Fantasy Quartet (R.C.M., Cobbett Prize, 1936). The rest of the concert will be taken up with Songs from my Operas accompanied by string quartet, a harp and piano and perhaps other instruments.

We start with my second opera The Return of Odysseus with the song that I had first heard sung by no less a soprano than Maggie Teyte. I thank my God that I was able to translate the beautiful ancient words of Homer at least 3000 years old into modern English song:-

Penelope’s Song from The Return of Odysseus Act I:

"Phemius, why this tragic tale?
"Many other songs you know,
songs of heroes and of gods
that poets love to celebrate.
Tell them one of these while they
sit and drink their wine in silence.
Leave this bitter tale which always
tears at my heart reminding me
of my unforgettable sorrow which crushes me
above all women, for I remember
Ah! with how much longing
the dear head of my husband, whose sad story
rings in the voice of every poet and singer
throughout the world."

2. Next an excerpt from The Partisans :

"Mountain, you that are higher than I,
Mountain, you that have the further view,
What has become of the men that adorn us,
Where have they flown that are in our hollows?"

3. Duet from Avon for soprano and tenor:

Hailey (tenor):-

"Still flows the Avon
ever shall flow,
when you as a child
First caught the gleam
and laughed to see in the gurgling beaming waters
a glint of the heaven
from which you surely came.

"Still flows the Avon
ever shall flow,
in dark days even
its light aglow,
and pipe for man the song of the living water
replenished from heaven."


"I dreamed
of a life worthy of song
here in this noble Hall
where Avon wanders ...
freed from the trivial …
each bearing his part
in the madrigal of life ...
inspiring us all."


"You dreamed
of a life worthy of song ...
each bearing his part …
in the harmony of art.
with terraces and pastures ...

"I found that dream
in the hearts of simple people
plying their trade in the London streets.
I found that street-cry
in the blackbird’s call,
when I came home to Avon Feldon"

Laura (echoing his words with love in her voice):

"When you came home to Avon Feldon ..."


"But the clouds gather once more
like omens of the ever-recurring war
that threatens all that lust for power."


"Make a stand for us,
for peace and beauty
through ecstasy.
Be the new found Oriana
an example to the world!"


"Ah! if we could find the way
to the sunlight of that fairer day!"

4. Cap’n Bry’s Song from The Tinners of Cornwall

5. An Maggy’s Song from The Logan Rock

"Insure, sure enough,
with An Maggy.
Take out her famous Comprehensive Policy.
For she’s of the real old "peller" breed,
Her charms and crews are guaranteed
by St. Leavan Witches Ltd.
Insure, sure enough, with An Maggy.

"Why, you all look wisht, you all look haunted.
What’s been making you feel down-daunted?
The hens broody, the cows dry?
Your milk turned to curds and whey?
Then come to An Maggy,
You’re over-looked. You’re ill-wisht!
Someone has given you the evil eye.
Your cow’s begrudged. Your milk’s bewitched,
Someone has said he wished you were dead,
But Maggy can find and punish the spy.
Insure with An Maggy etc.

"Bad eyes have you? Wounds, bruises?
Maggy distils for all diseases.
House haunted? Pigs possessed?
Maggy can put the old ‘un to rest.
So come to An Maggy.
At dead of night she’ll cure the blight
call up spirits or lay them down.
She’ll reverse any kind of curse,
Bring back money you lost as well.
Insure with An Maggy etc.


6. Tom’s Serenade from The Prince of Coxcombs (tenor solo).

"High state and honours let others impart,
But give me your heart, give me your heart.
That treasure, that treasure alone
I beg for my own.
So gentle a love,
so fervent a fire
My soul does inspire.
That treasure, that treasure
I beg for my own.

"Your love let me prove;
Give me in possessing
so matchless a blessing.
that empire is all I would have.
Love’s my petition,
All my ambition;
if e’er you discover
so faithful a lover,
so real a flame
I’ll die, I’ll die,
so give up my game.

Give me your heart
Give me your heart"

7. The First Daughter of Philip’s description of St Paul’s Journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea (from The Prisoner Paul):

Solo harp: Brian Davis

Solo recorder: Edgar Gordon

"Through the long night air
The warm eastern night air
from the third hour of night
the tramp of marching men-at-arms
and clopping of horses
wakes and alarms
the tired sleepers
and the shepherds’ dogs.

"From the third hour of night,
passes like some haunting army
from a long-forgotten battle
till the dawn, the slow dawn
reveals the centre and focus
of that train of men and animals
the transfigured face of him,
their wondrous captive,
the Prisoner of the Lord.

"What thoughts arose in his heart,
what visions had he
on that long journey
from Jerusalem to Caesarea?"

8. King Arthur’s song from A Will of Her Own

9. Cicero’s Lament for his daughter Tullia from The Rubicon

The Spirit of Tullia:
"Do you understand father?
There is no need for a shrine
or any monument in my memory.
The dead do not die.
They cross the Rubicon.
And you yourself have not long to live
Great things are happening
about which you can never know
while you are still alive.

But you will know.
So soon now
you will be with us now,
And then nothing can part us.
There is no need for a shrine.
Do you understand, Father?"

Cicero (in his sleep)

"The shrine! The shrine!"

(He wakes up and looks round for Tullia.)

"I seemed to see her here with me.
So vividly I could have touched her.
She seemed to be telling me of something
but what was it?"

10. Tilwin’s Song from my thirteenth opera Lindisfarne.

Dramatic Soprano

11. The quartet from my 14th opera Claudia’s Dream:

I tried to make this one of the great quartets of opera. Whether I have succeeded is not for me to say:

Claudia (aside):

"I feel every pang as if myself should hang
suspended in mid-air, alone, stark, bare
my hands nailed to the tree, left to die in agony.
I feel all his despair, pierced by every stare
of blindness, the hopeless heaving vainly striving for relieving
pain I can scarcely bear.

I faint yet cannot fail to feel the non-avail
of respite from the spite of nails. My whole body pales
to carcass cast in clay while blood-drips ooze away.
And so his life ebbs entangled in the webs
of malice and indifference, misunderstanding, ignorance
conspiring to close the view of life that holds true."

Herodias (aside):

"She seems preoccupied quite unable to divide
Her attention, more applies to her woman than to me.
Such behaviour one may say stemm’d from plain lack of gentility
Good breeding does count. Propriety is paramount.

Has such reception for a queen ever before been seen?
In such behaviour towards one of worth she clearly betrays her shadowy birth.
For her aloofness from the event she may point to her descent.
But her connection with the Imperial is in the end quite immaterial."

Pilate (aside):

"She seems quite oblivious of the status of her guest.
I knew that she would be distressed so thought it best
if I should provide a little distraction opening wide
a social vista planned to take her mind away from what had happened here this day.

But in the event as things befall,
it might have been better after all
not to have asked them here at all
but left things as they were
to take their course and lose their force
by smoothing out the ravelled lines of this care."

Herod (aside):

"How strange to find myself here in this palace once again
where life was full of fear and thoughts were full of pain.

I can still see my father Herod the Great
He still haunts every corner with a subtle kind of hate.
From all I can remember his death brought no grief,
but more recent troubles encumber and dismember
the feeling we had at the time of peace and relief
of relief and peace,
for we are here no longer as masters in this place,
as once we were, but the sense of resentment is stronger
and harder to bear than any thoughts of peace."

12. Galileo’s Outburst from his copy of ‘The Dialogue’:

"Who can doubt that it will lead
to the gravest disorders
when men created free by God
are compelled to submit
like slaves to the judgment
of those who have no competence
to be their masters,
when experts are forced
to bow to the ignorant
when we are made to deny our senses
Such enormities
could lead to chaos,
the subversion of the state."

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