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Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage$
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Peter Brown and Suzana Ograjenšek

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199558551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199558551.001.0001

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‘Batter the Doom Drum’

‘Batter the Doom Drum’

The Music for Peter Hall’s Oresteia and Other Productions of Greek Tragedy by Harrison Birtwistle and Judith Weir

(p.369) 19 ‘Batter the Doom Drum’
Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage

David Beard

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the extent to which music was integral, even essential, to Peter Hall's productions of ancient drama. The principal focus is the Oresteia setting by Harrison Birtwistle (1934– ), performed at the National Theatre in London in 1981–2, and subsequently at Epidaurus in 1982. It discusses previously undocumented aspects of the production's history and rehearsal process along with the music's evolution and its basic categories and characteristics. It also considers the interpretative layers the music brings to the production as a whole. Finally, to assess the legacy of Birtwistle's Oresteia music, the chapter presents a brief account of Judith Weir's setting of Hall's 1996 Oedipus plays (Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus), and Birtwistle's music for Hall's 2002 Bacchai.

Keywords:   Peter Hall, Oresteia, Greek tragedy, plays, Judith Weir, Harrison Birtwistle, music, ancient drama

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