Jennie(MS):Potted Plant/Baby/Mother Goose(S):Rhoda/voice ofBaby's Mother(S):cat-Milkman/high voice of Ash Tree(T):Pig-in-Sandwich-Boards(BB): Lion(BB) - 3(III=picc).1.ca.3(III=bcl).2(II=cbsn) - 4030 - perc(4): vib/5 susp.cym/timp/cast/bells/ch.cym/slidewhistle/xyl/2 tgl/tamb/2 tpl.bl/mcas/tam-t/3 ratchet/whip/cyms/anvils/glsp/SD/sleighbells/siz.cym/football whistle/wind machine/BD/vibraslap (offstage): 7 bells/3 anvils/football whistle/SD - pno/cel - harp - strings (188.8.131.52.4)
Libretto 0-571-51933-4 and full score 0-571-52957-7 on sale, vocal score and parts for hire
The first musical idea to be jotted down was the gentle clip-clopping of the milk wagon, which makes a brief but unmistakable appearance in Higglety Pigglety Pop! After seeing a performance of Higglety, my mother gave me a miniature model of a milk wagon with a horse, and asked if I remembered that virtually every day before I was five years old, I used to run out of the house to meet the milkman and his horse as they came past. I was very touched, doubly so because the memory had almost completely vanished: the idea had spontaneously welled up from my subconscious, it seemed. This confirmed a feeling I’d had about Higglety since I began to work on it. If the music of Where the Wild Things Are could be said to embody a big “thank you” to the music I liked to listen to as a child, then Higglety is an evocation of the music I wanted to write at that age but didn’t know how. There are only a few passing references to things actually remembered, but the whole is couched in the flavour of what I used to hear in my head. I was conscious, during the process of composition, that ideals of stylistic consistency were being instinctively swept aside, in a way that consciously disturbed me but that I felt compelled to follow. Perhaps, half-consciously, I tried to build a bridge between musical “innocence” (my earliest attempts to compose) and “experience” (the means learned since then) – a bridge which can only ever remain illusory, I’m afraid. Apart from the elegiac character which subtly shades Maurice’s book, and which perhaps music brings to the surface a little more, there was something strangely sad for me in the composition of Higglety – as if one was turning to wave good-bye to those days, and that music, for one last time.
© Oliver Knussen