21 August 2001

On Melancholy and the humour of the night

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On Harrison Birtwistle and Melancholia. An article derived from a lecture given for the Roche foundation before the premiere of Birtwistle’s ‘Night’s Black Bird’, Lucerne, Switzerland, 21 August, 2004.


Harrison Birtwistle’s engagement with the idea of Melancholy and the ‘humour of the night’ is closely informed by Dürer’s engraving, Melencolia I (1514). In this image, which has preoccupied Birtwistle for several decades, an angel sits in the midst of a construction site, surrounded by scattered hammers, planes and geometrical devices, wearing a dark and withdrawn countenance while Saturn radiates nocturnal light over the ocean behind… Read article here »

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