Month: September 2015

  • Words and Music 4  Not a soul but ourselves……

    Words and Music 4 Not a soul but ourselves……

    Around 2001 I was invited to give a presentation of music and readings at the annual International James Joyce Symposium in London. A few weeks before the event, I returned to my office one afternoon to find a message on my ansafone from Stephen Joyce, the author’s grandson. “Mr Marsh” he growled into my machine “This is Stephen Joyce. I understand that you are planning to present some musical settings of my grandfather’s work in London. I believe that the music you are planning to play is by …..…(he mentioned the name of a composer I had never heard of at that time). My wife and I detest this composer’s work, and what is more my grandfather – my grandfather – would have detested it too. I forbid you to play this music and if you go ahead with this event you will be sued.”

  • Words and Music 3  ‘Dum’

    Words and Music 3 ‘Dum’

    The vocal pieces I wrote during the 1970s cannot be said to offer clear unadorned narrative. But they did quite consciously turn away from the idea of straightforward vocal text setting, and they were mostly designed for unconventional voices. In York I wrote ‘Dum – a vocal percussive fantasy’, initially for my composer friend Steve Stanton to perform, although eventually I performed the piece myself. Though a vocal piece it requires no singing.

  • Words and Music 2   James Joyce

    Words and Music 2 James Joyce

    I was 21 when I first met Berio. My teacher Bernard Rands introduced me to him in the green room after a Queen Elizabeth Hall concert.   “This is my pupil Roger Marsh” he said. “He’s just written a piece on Joyce’s Ulysses. Berio looked interested. “Really?” he said. “Which part?” “The whole thing” I replied. Berio chuckled and said “You’re a brave man”. I didn’t get a chance to explain myself, but it didn’t matter. He had already forgotten me.

  • Words and Music 1   Words Matter

    Words and Music 1 Words Matter

    Words matter. I start there because sometimes I think composers forget it. Sometimes I think that singers forget it too. Sometimes I think that if I were the author of a libretto or song lyric I would wonder where my words had gone when I hear them sung.