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.

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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the midst of a construction site, surrounded by scattered hammers, planes and geometrical devices, wearing a dark and withdrawn countenance while Saturn radiates nocturnal light over the ocean behind… Read article here »

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