Orchestral manoeuvres: Burns on the concert platform, 1879-1959

McCue, K. (2021) Orchestral manoeuvres: Burns on the concert platform, 1879-1959. In: Brown, I. and Carruthers, G. (eds.) Performing Robert Burns: Enactments and Representations of the ‘National Bard’. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, pp. 148-163. ISBN 9781474457149

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Publisher's URL: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-performing-robert-burns.html


As recent scholarship has already mapped, Burns’s lyrics, and often the melodies associated with them, have inspired musicians since the 1780s to arrange, set and compose their own work. Much has been written on the musical settings in Burns’s early song collections, as published by Johnson and Thomson. And some work has been done on Schumann’s lieder with texts by Burns. But little attention has so far been given to the many orchestral depictions of Burns’s poems and songs. This chapter examines the creation and performance history of a small set of these works. It begins with Alexander Campbell Mackenzie's orchestral rhapsodies in the late 1800s, which feature key songs and tunes associated with Burns, a compositional process repeated in 1959 with Serge Hovey's Robert Burns Rhapsody, created in the USA and premiered in Berlin. Between these dates, three key British composers, Mackenzie and his younger Scots contemporary Learmont Drysdale, and England's Malcolm Arnold, were each inspired in quite different ways by Burns's major poem 'Tam o' Shanter', revealing the attraction of this rollocking tale to the world of programmatic orchestral music. Agreeing with Henry George Farmer's comment that Burns's influence on Scotland's musical life in the nineteenth century was indeed 'mighty', the chapter aims to show that Burns's musical influence in fact went beyond his songs and melodies and beyond Scotland's borders too.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Songs, melodies, orchestral music, concert life, Alexander Campbell Mackenzie, Learmont Drysdale, Malcolm Arnold, Serge Hovey, Iain Hamilton, 'Tam o' Shanter'.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCue, Professor Kirsteen
Authors: McCue, K.
Subjects:M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press

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