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Four Songs from Grimm's : for SATB choir and piano

by Luke Byrne (2017)

Work Overview

I became acquainted with Grimms' tales through reading The Singing Bones by the peerless Australian author and artist Shaun Tan. In his book, Shaun Tan does not simply illustrate or re-tell these rough, gruesome and enthralling stories, but creates a single clay sculpture for each story he chose, accompanied by a short excerpt of text. Together these capture an essence of each story.

The four stories that I have chosen may never be as famous as "Cinderella" or "Hansel & Gretel", but they are no less wonderful, especially the last one, "Foundling". In both this and "The Worn-out Dancing Shoes" I have taken my cue from Shaun Tan and aimed to capture an essence of each story: an atmosphere of foreboding, a repeated, simple plea from one child to another.

However, in some instances I just had to tell the whole story, and "The Mouse, the Bird & the Sausage" can be told like a synopsis without losing its wit and high moral tone. Similarly "The Three Snake Leaves" is such a rollercoaster of a yarn that I had to musically set as much of its drama and brutality as possible.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: SATB Choir (with divisi), piano.

Duration: 17 min.

Difficulty: Medium — Virtuosic piano part

Commission note: Commissioned by The Arts Unit, NSW Department of Education, for the NSW Public Schools Singers, Music Director Elizabeth Scott

First performance: by NSW Public Schools Singers, Elizabeth Scott — Oct 17. Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Performances of this work

Oct 17: Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Featuring NSW Public Schools Singers, Elizabeth Scott.

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