The Sinking of the Titanic
composer: Gavin Bryars
for digital tapes and ensemble
Premiere: December 11, 1972 London, Queen Elizabeth Hall (UK) · Conductor: Gavin Bryars · Music Now Ensemble
March 14, 1997 Glasgow (UK) · Conductor: Martyn Brabbins · BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (world première of the revised version)
Orchestra instrumentation: flexible instrumentation · possible materials include digital tapes, str ens, perc, low brass, brass qrt, bcl, taped speech, keybd, visible sound effects, music box
Publisher: Schott Music Ltd., London
Duration: 40' 0''
Year of composition: 1969, rev. 1996
Material on hire
Originating as the musical equivalent of a work of conceptual art, this piece has various performing versions, often arising from particular occasions and environments. All the materials used are derived from research and peculations about the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ liner on 14 April 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage. The initial starting point was the reported fact of the band playing the hymn tune ‘Autumn’ in the final moments of the ship’s sinking, together with other features of the disaster which generate musical or sounding performance material or which ‘take the mind to other regions’. Other material is superimposed on the hymn tune, including fragments of
interviews with survivors, Morse sequences, musical references to different possible tunes for the hymn, the sound of the iceberg’s impact, and so on.
Bryars · The Sinking of the Titanic · sound clip
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