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Wasted and Worn, op.6 : "And calm of mind all passion spent"

by Jonathan David Little (2016)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Stanbery Singers, Paul John Stanbery from the CD Woefully arrayed

Woefully arrayed


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Wasted and Worn, op.6


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Work Overview

Marked at the head of the score, "Bittersweet and With Dignity (yet always expressive)", this work is dedicated to the memory of the artist, John William Godward (1861-1922) - whose work was largely overlooked during his lifetime - yet who ploughed on regardless, despite being ostracised by his own family in the pursuit of his art, and its technical perfection. Radically changing tastes and the aftermath of the First World War led him to feel that the possibility of realising an artistic golden age had vanished, ultimately leading him to take his own life. Upon reaching the culmination of many years of work, and at the height of his powers, Godward's art had become "old-fashioned", and seemingly worthless overnight, yet he was never truly recognised for the brilliance of his images even when he was creating them (a situation only rectified several decades later). Godward's fate is perhaps representative of the condition of many hardworking and talented solitary artists, especially those lacking early advantage; and so the score of Wasted and Worn also includes this head-quotation from Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard (1751) by Thomas Gray (1716-71):

"Along the cool sequester'd vale of life / They kept the noiseless tenour of their way."
Wasted and worn that passion must expire,
Which swept at sunrise like a sudden fire
Across the whitened crest of happy waves.
Now lonely in a labyrinth of graves,
His footsteps foiled, his spirit bound and numb,
Grey Love sits dumb.

[From: "A Parting", in Orpheus in Thrace and Other Poems, 1901]

John Byrne Leicester Warren, Lord de Tabley (1835-1895)

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: SSAATTBB choir with soloists.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Multi-line, a cappella; some semitone clashes.

Dedication note: In memory of John William Godward

Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council.

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Historically-informed compositional style has been variously described as "Ecstatic Minimalism", "Archaic Futurism", and “Picturesque Archaism” – blending art music, folk/Celtic, and other sacred and secular musical influences, from as far back as the fourteenth century, with new and innovative textures and orchestration (sometimes also including spatial effects).

First sketches 2005; completed March 2016.


Resonate article: Composing 'polychoral' music by Jonathan David Little

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