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Un poilu Australien

Sheet Music: Score

Un poilu Australien / music by Elliott Gyger ; words by Jacques Playoust.

by Elliott Gyger (2015)


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Jacques Playoust was born in Flanders in 1884, and emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of five. When World War I broke out, he returned to France to fight in the French army. Where the young Australian volunteers enlisted in the service of a mother country most of them had never seen, Jacques was in a very real sense defending his homeland.

In this work the mezzo-soprano sings extracts from Jacques' letters to his French relatives, written in French, while the bass sings extracts from those written to his younger siblings in Australia. While these are mostly in English, here too Jacques lapses into French, at which points the two voices sing together. The extracts are arranged chronologically, sketching out a trajectory from initial patriotic enthusiasm, through disillusionment and trauma, to moments of despair. The music draws on two sources: the French national anthem (La Marseillaise), and a popular World War I song, Australia Will Be There. Both are used mostly in heavily disguised form, coming to the surface only rarely.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (52p. -- B4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 18 min.

Commission info: Commissioned with assistance from the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program

First performance by Halcyon at Halcyon: War Letters (Ku-Ring-Gai Town Hall) on 7 Nov 2015

Typeset edition.

ISMN: 979-0-720162-64-5

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This work is also available in the following products:

War letters
CD: War letters : new music commemorating WWI / Halcyon.


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