We are delighted to continue our collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as they play Symphony in C (1975) by Anthony Burgess on 4 July 2017 at the Bridgewater Hall as part of the Manchester International Festival. This special performance celebrating Burgess’s centenary will be the European premiere.
Anthony Burgess claimed to have written three full-scale symphonies. Symphony No. 1 was, by his account, destroyed by enemy bombs during the war; his Symphony No. 2, written during the 1950s in Malaya, did not survive. His third, Symphony in C, was his first orchestral work to be performed. Anticipating the return to tonality of the 1980s, the symphony is full of colour, texture, energy and dynamism and is particularly influenced by the work of Sibelius and Shostakovich, to whom the third movement is dedicated. The final movement ends with spoken lines from Shakespeare’s play Love’s Labours Lost: ‘the words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo’. In Burgess’s description of the conclusion, ‘the orchestra then plays a single fortissimo chord of C major and everyone goes off for a drink.’
On hearing the piece Burgess wrote: ‘I had written over thirty books, but this was the truly great artistic moment […] I wished my father had been present. It would have been a filial fulfilment of his own youthful dreams.’ The Symphony in C is Burgess’s most ambitious composition and represents the high point of his journey from basic instruction in music from his cinema pianist father in 1920s Manchester, through working as an arranger for a dance band in the Army Entertainment Corps during the war, to accomplished composer of over two hundred and fifty musical works.
The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the International Anthony Burgess Foundation have presented a number of Anthony Burgess’s pieces in concert and on radio in recent years, including A Manchester Overture as part of the Mancunian Way season; Oedipus The King for BBC Radio 3 with music by Stanley Silverman and lyrics by Anthony Burgess; and in September 2017 the orchestra will present the world premiere of Burgess’s music for his stage version of A Clockwork Orange as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
For tickets and booking information please visit Manchester International Festival.