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The Play of Daniel (dramatic music)

by Ralph Middenway (2012)

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Play of Daniel


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The Play of Daniel : for chorus, actors and ensemble, piano reduction / Ralph Middenway.

Library shelf no. 782.14/MID 3 [Available for loan]

Play of Daniel


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The Play of Daniel : for chorus, actors and ensemble / Ralph Middenway.

Library shelf no. 782.14/MID 2 [Available for loan]

Display all products featuring this work (4 more)  

Work Overview

Ludus Danielis (The Play of Daniel) was written by Juvenes (the Young Men) of Le Cath├ędrale de Sainte-Pierre in Beauvais in about 1230, perhaps using an earlier model by the celebrated Benedictine Hilarius. No-one knows how it would have looked or sounded, but there are a good many clues in the text suggesting it called for a good many instruments to accompany the voices, plus some dancing, and perhaps even a young virgin riding on an ass. It was evidently written for the Feast of Fools, and/or the Festival of the Ass, all part of the jocular midwinter celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas, its origins in the Classical Greek Chronia, and the comparable Saturnalia of pre-Christian Rome. It has something of the mood of a modern-day, squeaky clean revue in a small, private, Catholic university-simultaneously entertaining and devout.

The style is derived from secular and sacred music of the period, with the sort of of freedom one might expect from a bunch of young men off the chain for the wildest season of the year. There are echoes of popular songs and dances of the day, of the less formal kinds of church music in provincial France, of the complexities of the new School of Notre Dame in Paris, and of the new-fangled hocket and hemiola.

The edition allows for the use of modern and/or early instruments. The scoring is arranged in such a way that any modern instruments used will not sound obtrusively so. The edition is suitable for use in a cathedral or large church with several aisles, and could be adapted for use in a variety of other venues. (See also companion paper, 'Ludus Danielis in Performance' in Volume 2, International Journal of Musicology, 2016.)

Care is needed to ensure that the bulk of the action is visible to audiences, in the case of performance in a flat-floored church, perhaps by means of a substantial ziggurat in the chancel.

Work Details

Year: 2012

Instrumentation: SSTTBB + SSSAAATTTBBB chorus (with soloists), piccolo/flute, oboe/cor anglais, trumpet, percussion (1 player), harp, double bass (or cello), organ.

Duration: 75 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Singers must memorise Latin lyrics; co-ordination in processions in larger buildings needs care.

Contents note: 1. Præludium: In Thy honour, oh Christ … Belshazzar’s Feast: 2. Conductus 1: The King’s Arrival -- 3. Contio 1: The King’s Vessels -- 4.  Conductus 2: Bringing the Vessels The Writing on the Wall: 5. Contio 2: The Right Hand Writing -- 6. Conductus 3: The Nobles & the Magi -- 7. Contio 3: The King & the Magi -- 8. Conductus 4: The Queen’s Arrival -- 9. Contio 4: The Queen & the King -- 10. Conductus 5a: Daniel The Nobles & Daniel -- 11. Conductus 5b: Daniel’s Arrival -- 12. Contio 5: Daniel & the King -- 13. Conductus 6a: The Queen’s Departure -- 14. Conductus 6b: Return of the Vessels -- Interludium -- Killing of the King Curia Darii Regis (Court of King Darius): 15. Conductus 6c: The Arrival of Darius -- 16. Contio 6: Darius & Daniel’s Rivals -- 17. Conductus 7a: The Legates Looking for Daniel -- 18. Conductus 7b: Daniel’s Arrival -- 19. Contio 7a: Darius & Daniel -- 20. Contio 7b: Darius & Daniel’s Rivals Daniel in Fovea Leonum (Daniel in the Lions’ Den): -- 21. Contio 7c: The Angels, Habakkuk & Daniel Darius , Daniel & Daniel’s Rivals Daniel Propheta (Daniel the Prophet): 22. Contio 8a: Daniel’s Prophecy -- 23. Contio 8b: The First Angel -- 24. Postludium: We praise Thee, O God!

First performance: 22 Mar 12. St David's Anglican Cathedral, Hobart

Le Jeu de Daniel fut achevé par de jeunes érudits dans la Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre, Beauvais, en 1230. Bien qu’il se termine avec un Te Deum Laudamus, il n’est pas liturgique.
Il paraît que Le Jeu fut écrit pour la Fête des fous, un élément des douze jours de Noël, où le rôle de l’évêque fut joué par un jeune étudiant, le Prince des Fous. L’analogie la plus proche aujourd’hui serait peut-être une semaine du carnaval étudiant, et quelques aspects du Jeu rappelleraient peut-être une revue universitaire blanche comme la neige. Et afin de raccorder cette histoire pour un public moderne,
l’éditeur a introduit ce Prince des Fous, jeune diacre bravache, en tant que Maître de Cérémonie, qui raconte l’histoire, petit à petit, en vers.

There is also a version of this edition for francophone performers and audiences, Le Jeu de Daniel. The French text copyright held by Rosemary Lloyd.

This is a piece of 'applied composition'. The score is built up from one unmeasured vocal line dating from ca 1230 in Beauvais, Picardie. The piece was commissioned by St David's Cathedral, Hobart for a season there in March 2012. There was an editorial committee of three: the editor, plus Philippa Moyes and Michael Lampard for the Cathedral. Ralph Middenway hold the copyright of all English-language text in the new edition.

Complete, adaptable performing edition.

Performances of this work

22 Mar 12: St David's Anglican Cathedral, Hobart

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