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Further Listening

Want to listen to more? Here are some suggestions...

For further listening this week, it depends on what element of Roberto Gerhard’s music most interests you. If you are interested in his acoustic compositions, then I’d recommend the following works:

7 Haiku (1922)

One of the few pieces Gerhard wrote before his studies with Schoenberg. It’s a nice counterpoint to his later works to showcase what a more pure serialist approach would have sounded like had Gerhard pursued this more directly.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

The Plague (1964)

This one is a tour de force. A melodramatic musical setting of Albert Camus’ novel of the same name, ‘The Plague’ tells the story of a village that succumbs to a plague. The orchestration is rich, the story is told through a mixture of dramatic spoken word and choral writing, and the narrative is gripping. Highly recommended.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Leo (1969)

Gerhard final composition, here he leans even more into folk-inspired melodies and harmonies. This follows a similar formal structure to Libre, in that it is one long piece comprised of contrasting sections, but the contrasts are sharper and the expressivity of ratcheted up a notch. Not every composer gets a chance to make a final, cohesive statement that bring together all many ways they thought about making music, but Gerhard does so here.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to listen more to Gerhard’s electronic music, then the options are a bit more limited, sadly.

The first port of call is the Sub Rosa release Roberto Gerhard: Electronic Explorations From His Studio + The BBC Radiophonic Workshop 1958-1967 We’ve already listened to a few recordings from this record but one that we didn’t look at is his electronic work ‘Caligula’. Premiered at the ONCE Festival in Michigan, Caligula nicely fuses a lot of the ideas that underpinned Gerhard’s applied music into a work for the concert hall.

Other than that, a lot of Gerhard’s electronic music only exists in fragments in the Roberto Gerhard Digital Archive. We’ll go through the archive in more detail next week, but for now I’d recommend having a look at the summaries of Gerhard’s electronic music and having a listed to the linked tapes in the archive. In particular, his work for the radio drama ‘Asylum Diary’ has some really nice music on it, and you can get an idea of what this radio drama might have sounded like in its final version through these various collected fragments.

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English Electronic Music: Delve into the Digital Archives

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