Clockwork Orange songs make debut
Published: 29th Jun 2012 06:50:34
Songs written by A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess for a musical version of his novel have been performed in the UK for the first time.
Burgess' operatic reimagining of his most famous novel was composed 26 years ago, but has never been staged in full.
Tenor Timothy Langston played gang leader Alex, accompanied by bowler hat-wearing members of Manchester Chamber Choir as his "droog" accomplices.
Together, they sang songs about their "ultra-violence" and "the old in-out".
Burgess' tunes, informed by Beethoven as well as classic musicals like West Side Story, feature lyrics written in the Russian-influenced argot Burgess invented for his teenage anti-heroes.
The opening song uses the gang's battle cry of "What's it gonna be then, eh?" as its chorus. Another, depicting the authorities' over-zealous attempts at a cure, begins with a bellicose chant: "Discipline, discipline, let's have discipline, give him a haircut and shave."
Burgess composed a "play with music" to reassert ownership over his story after it was overshadowed by director Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1971 film.
The script has been performed as a drama, notably by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 1990 - but they enlisted Bono and The Edge of U2 to compose new songs rather than use Burgess' compositions.
Burgess, who died in 1993, wrote 33 novels, but once said he wanted to be known as "a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side".
Dr Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, where the performance took place, said the songs had not previously been aired in the UK because there was a "distrust of his music among professional musicians".
"He wasn't one of them," he said. "He wasn't formally trained. When the RSC did their production of the play, they wanted musicians you've heard of."
Dr Biswell said there was "every chance" Burgess' music would now be used in a fully staged production.
"Now the music's been properly edited and typeset, it becomes usable for other people," he said. "I'd never heard all of the music so this has been a revelation to me. I'd known the play for more than 20 years but suddenly this makes sense of the play for me."
The play differs significantly from the book and subsequent film, he said.
"It becomes a love story. Alex acquires a girlfriend and intends to get married at the end of the play, and that love interest isn't there in the novel, and certainly not in the film. So, in many ways, it's a much more conventional theatrical happy ending.
"I think the reason he adapted this for the stage and wrote his own music was to reassert authorship over the story post-Kubrick. But also I think he got quite tired of the way the book and the film were talked about as products of violence.
"There had been a very dry, academic debate about violence, and the thing everybody had forgotten is that the novel he'd written is, in many respects, a comic novel.
"Burgess, in putting it on the stage, found an opportunity, not just to adapt, but to revise and reimagine and turn it into something new, and something that's meant to entertain.
"People don't go to the theatre because they want to see people being raped and murdered. There has to be something else. So adapting the story for the theatre gave him the chance to change the tone of it completely."
The performance was part of a conference to mark the book's 50th anniversary.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Clockwork Orange songs make debut. [Online] (Updated 29 Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/1437607-Clockwork-Orange-songs-make-debut [Accessed 16th June 2013]
At 15:34:10 in OtherA march has taken place in memory of a woman who left a suicide note in which she said she was worried about government benefit changes....
At 15:03:36 in OtherA man found with serious head injuries in a street in Greater Manchester has died. ...
At 14:11:27 in OtherA rally has been held at the National Railway Museum in York over its possible closure....
At 13:41:16 in OtherThe body found on the Spanish island of Lanzarote is that of a missing Merseyside woman, the Foreign Office has confirmed....
At 09:20:41 in Other"I went downstairs and opened the door. Standing there was Dale Cregan"....
At 00:42:48 in OtherThe mother of a boy killed in an IRA bomb blast in Warrington has been appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list....
At 00:08:25 in OtherThe MP for Hazel Grove has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list....
At 22:45:02 in HeadlinesFive of England's head teachers have been knighted or made dames in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours....
At 22:40:00 in OtherSir Menzies Campbell has spoken of his "surprise" and delight at being included in the Queen's Birthday Honours list....
At 22:30:01 in OtherBlackadder actor Tony Robinson has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours on a list that also includes his co-star Rowan Atkinso...
News In Other Categories
Google is launching balloons into near space to provide internet access to buildings below on the ground....
A woman who was hit by a lorry near Peterhead on Thursday has died in hospital....
There are four of them. They've performed at Abbey Road - and now they're working with the man who produced the White Album....
Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi and his father are being investigated in Spain for allegedly defrauding the state of more than 4m euros (£...
Scientists have sequenced the genome of a type of ash tree with resistance to the deadly fungal disease sweeping the UK. ...
A wave of car bombings across central and southern Iraq has killed at least 20 people, police and medics say....