Harmony

Julian Anderson (1967)

Harmony 2013

3(III=picc).2.ca.3(III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) - 4331 - perc(4): mar/t.bells/ocean drum/2 tam-t/rainstick/2 Tibetan bowls/BD/low t.bell - harp - strings
Duration 
5
Text Author 
Language 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

Harmony sets some lines concerning nature and time by the nineteenth-century mystical writer Richard Jefferies. Whilst walking in the Wiltshire countryside near a prehistoric monmument, Jefferies had a moment of revelation in which time appeared to stand still and he felt he had entered eternity. This moment was later written up as his strange autobiographical book The Story of my Heart (1883). Harmony’s text is drawn from this volume. The work emerges very quietly and has only a few brief moments where the full strength of choir and orchestra are revealed – analogous, perhaps, to the brief intensity of Jefferies’ revelation. To give a feeling of timelessness, the harmony of the music moves very slowly and gradually throughout, despite some very fast foreground figuration and a few passages of more vigorous rhythmic activity. For the same reason, a short duration requested was appropriate for this work: a flash of revelation can only be reflected in either a very brief but intense musical statement, or else in a very long one. Moderation is not an option when dealing with eternity. When we listen to music together in a concert, our normal sense of everyday, clock time is suspended and we enter the time of the music itself. So in writing a work such as Harmony, which celebrates eternity and timelessness, however briefly, in effect one is celebrating one of the special marvels of concert giving and of music itself.

Julian Anderson

Performances 
12.7.13 BBC Proms, London: BBC Symphony Chorus / BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo
3
Flute
3rd doubling piccolo
3
Oboe
3rd cor anglais
3
Clarinet
3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd doubling contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
4
Percussion
marimba, tubular bells, ocean drum, 2 tam-tam, rainstick, 2 Tibetan bowls, bass drum, low tubular bell
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