Mar 2, 2005, 2:49 PM
Just about every half-decent choral society in the country must be doing Tippett's "A Child of our Time" this year. Can I call attention to a work by another composer celebrating his centenary?
Matyas Seiber -- another 2005 centenarian
Matyas Seiber was born in Hungary in 1905 but lived and worked in Britain from 1935. He was killed in a car crash in 1960 while on a lecture tour of South Africa. Many chamber choralists will know his arrangements of Hungarian and Yugoslav folksongs for unaccompanied choir, but he also composed choral-orchestral pieces, of which 'Ulysses' (1947) is generally considered the finest. This is a setting for tenor, chorus and orchestra of a passage from the Joyce novel describing the night sky. It's an extremely atmospheric, expressionist piece showing the influences of Bartok, Schoenberg and Stravinsky, but despite these modernist antecedents it's very well written for voices and would present few difficulties to a choir capable of tackling the Tippett. There's no recording in the catalogue at the moment (one exists with Peter Pears singing the tenor solo) but I'm lucky enough to be singing in a performance, probably the first for forty years, in the Emma Cons Hall, Morley College, London (where the piece was first performed) on Saturday 19th March at 8.00. OK, this is a plug, but it really is an impressive piece and it would be good to have it in the choral repertoire again.
For further information on Seiber, see the centenary website at
and the Schott website at