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Score 0-571-50665-8 on sale, parts for hire
Why is Ophelia dancing? Partly as an instrumental response to Shakespeare’s description of her chanting ‘snatches of old tunes/ As one incapable of her own distress’, and partly because I wanted to write a piece whose light-headed and giddy qualities would suggest a crossing of the line that divides laughter from tears. The ‘old tunes’ in this piece are Schumann’s Carnaval, whose mottos provided much of its melodic and harmonic material, and two late works of Debussy, La boîte à joujoux and Gigues. There is an introduction, four dances (which become more and more compressed) and a long slow coda, all played continuously. Ophelia Dances was commissioned by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and first performed in New York in May 1975 by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
© Oliver Knussen