William Derrincourt


Entertainment in 12 scenes for baritone, male chorus and instrumental ensemble
Baritone, Music Theatre, Solo Voice(s) with Ensemble
selected and edited by the composer from the autobiography ‘Old Convict Days’ by William Derrincourt
1.0.1(=Ebcl+bcl).ssax.1 – 1110 – perc(2): 3 timp/marimbaphone/t.bells/crot/2 BD/tabor/2 conga/2 SD/4tuned gong/3 susp.gong/tam-t/tamb/6 c.bells/vib/glsp/xyl/7 tom-t/3 bongos/TD/3 susp.cym/susp.sizcym/6 tpl.bl/cast/wdbl/2 iron bars – 2 pno – 1 vln.1 vlc
First Performance
October 1977, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia: University of Western Australia Opera/dir. John Culshaw

Full score, chorus score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

William Derrincourt was composed in 1977 and first performed in October of that year at the University of Western Australia in a production by the late John Culshaw. In 1984 I extensively revised the entire score for the present season of performances.

In 1832, as a young boy of 14, William Derrincourt was sentenced to ten years' transportation - initially to Port Arthur, Tasmania - for attempting to sell a stolen waistcoat. After many adventures, including a further period of seven years' imprisonment on Cockatoo Island for robbing a mail coach, he was finally released in 1863. Subsequently he became a wealthy and successful business man, discovering much gold whilst hiring and repairing mining equipment on the goldfields near Sofala. In the 1890's he wrote his auto biography, entitled 'Old Convict Days', which was first serialised in the pages of the Sydney Evening News and published in book form in 1899.

I drew my libretto from this book, selecting twelve key incidents from his life, arranged in chronological order from birth to death. These 12 scenes are grouped into three parts separated by two interludes. The titles of the scenes and the musical forms which they employ are given in the programme listing.

The main burden of the instrumental accompaniment falls on the pair of pianos and percussionists, who play throughout. Many of the scenes are characterised by the addition of one, two or three solo instruments which are integrated into the stage action.

Part I - Dark England

Scene 1 My early days [Fantasia I]
Scene 2 My apprenticeship [Funeral March] Bassoon
Scene 3 Animal Sports [Hunting Song] Horn, Trumpet, Trombone
Scene 4 I am unjustly charged [Narration and Trial]

Interlude I - Barcarolle - Soprano saxophone

Part II - The Land of the Lash

Scene 5 I arrive at the convict depot at Hobart Town [March Militaire] Horn, Trumpet, Trombone
Scene 6 Down the coal mines [Ostinato] Clarinet
Scene 7 An attempted escape [Nocturne]
Scene 8 The Governor's Visit [Introduction, Theme and 6 Variations] Horn, Trumpet, Trombone
Scene 9 The flogging ["100 Chords"] Cello

Interlude II - Elegy for cello and piano

Part III - A Free Man

Scene 10 My marriage [Waltz and Polka] Flute, Violin
Scene 11 My later years [Fantasia II]
Scene 12 Epitaph


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