Work List
English / Deutsch
Site Info

 Francis BURT



After a thorough grounding at his public school in the Classical and paticularly Romantic musical repertoire, a sixteen-month stay during 1946-47 as an army officier in Nigeria had a liberating and stimulating influence upon Francis Burt. Above all, the drum music of the Ibo people of south-east Nigeria awoke his interest in the kinaesthetic elements of music, such as gesture, mouvement and dance. Not that any direct influence of Ibo music is to be found in his work; but almost all his earlier music is strongly characterised by rhythm and the dance. Thus one could almost call Volpone, premièred in 1960 by Würtemberg State Opera, a 'dance opera' -for, although it contains no ballet, it is full of dance forms and of music which represents, through its gestures, the singers' mouvements. The ballet The Golem, premièred in 1965 in Hanover, then assumes a key position in Burt's development. Influenced by the subject, which is pervaded by ecstatic religious feeling, the music becomes increasingly melodic and expressive, and the firmness of a strict metre is weakened.

In a later key work, Unter der blanken Hacke des Monds (Under the moon's naked sickle), broad bands or 'areas' of sound become prominent. These, from the outset conceived partly in polyphonic terms, are resolved in later works such as Und GOtt der HErr sprach almost entirely into polylinearity. Metre is further weakened until, in the most recent works, the bar looses its structural function and the tempo is in a state of flux.

The composer : "I am writing now in a style which is influenced in certain ways by electronic music: floating, with a barely discernible pulse, but incorporating bands and areas of sound and a gradual superimposition of lines into a polylinear web. Nevertheless, gesture remains the starting point for all my work. In a certain meaning of the word my music has always been 'tonal'. Over the years, the last remnants of classical functional harmony, frequently used to ironic effect in Volpone, have dissolved; but in the sense of tonality as a source of tension - and not just as a synonym for functional tonal harmony - its focal points can almost always be detected.

[Home] [Style] [WorkList] [Links]

[Publisher] [Biography] [Discography] [SiteInfo]