T.S. Eliot - The Waste Land set to music by Anthony Burgess

Filmed Live at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester

28th February 2014

The Waste Land Words by T.S. Eliot
Music by Anthony Burgess (European première)

Jonathan Best narrator
Rebecca Lea soprano
Elaine Tyler-Hall director

Conrad Marshall flute
Adrian Wilson oboe
Richard Casey piano
Jennifer Langridge cello

Joe Reiser sound and lighting technician

A collaboration between The International Anthony Burgess Foundation and Psappha

‘The Waste Land is a miraculous mediator between the hermetic and the demotic. It is, curiously when one considers the polyglot learning it carries, essentially a popular poem, outgoing rather than ingrown, closer to Shakespeare than to Donne. It was Pound who said that music decays when it moves too far away from the dance, and poetry decays when it neglects to sing. The Waste Land sticks in one's mind like a diverse recital performed by a voice of immense variety but essentially a single organ: it sings and goes on singing.’ Anthony Burgess

‘IMMENSE. MAGNIFICENT. TERRIBLE.’ This 1922 review of The Waste Land articulates the enduring challenge of the poem more than ninety years later. The most significant and influential English-language poem of the twentieth century, it draws on a multitude of literary, philosophical, religious and, importantly, musical allusions to form a disorientating new whole. Fractured and fragmentary, Eliot’s aesthetic response to what he felt was a desperately atomised culture is above all a poem of voices. These voices span millennia and nations, encompassing the tragedies of classical antiquity, the ritual chants of the Upanishads, and the vernacular of London pubs and typing pools. The degree to which the poem truly epitomises spiritual, political, and cultural malaise is still an open question, and its undeniable power lies in its expression of urban modernity as at once sterile, vertiginous and alienating.

© Martyn Hampton

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