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De Rerum Natura : The Nature of Things

by Peter McNamara (2020)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Chloe Lankshear, Alicia Crossley, Heathcliffe Auchinachie, Brad Gill from the CD De Rerum Natura

De Rerum Natura


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De Rerum Natura / Peter McNamara.

Library shelf no. CD 3189 [Available for loan]

De Rerum Natura


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De Rerum Natura : for voice and chamber ensemble / Peter McNamara.

Library shelf no. 783.6754/MCM 1 [Not for loan]

Work Overview

De Rerum Natura is a 6-part song cycle setting portions of Titus Lucretius Carus' same-titled 6-volume ancient Latin literary work, completed in c. 55 BC. De Rerum Natura can be translated as The Nature of Things, and is a sophisticated didactic text explaining the world around us, consisting of poetry, prose and scientific theory of the antiquity. Lucretius outlines the flaws as he sees them in ancient religion, that the souls of men are mortal, that the world consists of infinite fine particles, the senses of the body, the formation of the universe, and in conclusion, a graphic and apocalyptic description of the 430-27 BC Athens plague.

The six movements of De Rerum Natura, are divided into two related groups of three movements (1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6). The first song predominantly incorporates Mediaeval influenced musical material with a flowing rhythmic character, while the second is influenced by ancient Greek musical material and is much more rhythmically driven and tense. The fourth song is related to the first harmonically, but with the tense and rhythmically driven character of the second. The fifth song meanwhile is related to the second harmonically, but with the flowing character of the first. The third and sixth songs are also closely related by way of their rhythmically free and semi-improvised character, creating two related yet contrasting overall divisions of the song cycle.

Work Details

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: Soprano or mezzo-soprano, classical guitar or harp, recorder or flute, percussion.

Duration: 45 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: Liber Primus -- Liber Secundus -- Liber Tertius -- Liber Quartus -- Liber Quintus -- Liber Sextus.

Commission note: Developed through the support of the Classical Association of NSW, the Myer Foundation, APRA AMCOS and Mr Charles Davidson

First performance: at Sideband: Renaissance (Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music) on 17 Sep 2019

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Classical Latin, ancient Greek music.


Resonate article: De Rerum Natura and Five Pali Songs: engaging with ancient texts by Peter McNamara and Brad Gill


Performances of this work

17 Sep 2019: at Sideband: Renaissance (Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music).

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