Blowing the horn for Anthony Burgess in 2023
John Anthony Burgess Wilson was born in Harpurhey, north Manchester, on 25 February 1917, just as the pubs were opening.
To celebrate his birthday, we are very pleased to present the first recording of Burgess’s Sonata for English Horn, composed as a gift for his son Andrew Burgess-Wilson, who was also a musician. The sonata is performed by William Wielgus, formerly an oboist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.
Later this year the Foundation will be marking the 30th anniversary of Burgess’s death in 1993, and we are taking various opportunities throughout the year to reassess his reputation and the legacies of his artistic work.
Burgess’s 1966 edition of A Shorter Finnegans Wake has just been republished as a deluxe paperback by Galileo Books. This reduction of James Joyce’s famous text sets out the key elements of the narrative. Burgess’s introduction explains the complex story and characters for the benefit of new readers.
In May we are looking forward to the first publication of two plays by Anthony Burgess, in a dramatic volume to be released by Salamander Street, the independent theatre press. Chatsky, an English version of the Russian comedy by Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov, was performed at the Almeida Theatre in 1993, starring Colin Firth in the title role. Miser, Miser is a translation of the famous comedy by Molière, revitalised by Burgess in the style of his celebrated translation of Cyrano de Bergerac.
Also in May, Penguin Essentials will release a new edition of The Wanting Seed, a dystopian novel intended as a companion piece to A Clockwork Orange and originally published in the same year.
In June there will be a special event at HOME in Manchester, exploring the world of silent cinema, where Burgess had his earliest encounters with film, and where his father played the piano. The event is inspired by Burgess’s novel The Pianoplayers, an attempt to fictionalize the lives of his mother, father and sister.
Manchester University Press will publish the Irwell Edition of The Clockwork Testament in July. The book has been freshly edited and annotated by Dr Ákos Farkas, and this edition includes a ‘lost’ Enderby story, never previously published in English.
This latest volume to join the Irwell Edition of Burgess’s works will be accompanied by a new exhibition on the theme of ‘Burgess in America’, which will run across the summer and autumn months.
In November we are planning a special concert of music composed by Anthony Burgess in his final years. This will be presented alongside a new musical commission, based on research in the Foundation’s archive.