The music of

David Lumsdaine

The music of David Lumsdaine

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Annotations of Auschwitz

Cantata on a poem by Peter Porter and Wisdom XVIII

for soprano, flute, trumpet, horn,violin, cello and piano

Dum medium silentium omnia tenerent......(i)

When the burnt flesh is finally at rest, The fires in the asylum grates will come up And wicks turn down to darkness in the madmen's eyes On the homebound underground I fall asleep- I shuffle with the naked to the steel door, Now I am only ten feet from the front - I wake up We are past Gioucester Road, I am not a Jew, But scratches web the ceiling of the train. Around staring buildings the pale flowers grow; The frenetic butterfly, the bee made free by work, Rouse and rape the pollen pads, the nectar stoops. The rusting railway ends here. The blind end in Europe’s gut Touch one piece of unstrung barbed wire- Let it taste blood: let one man scream in pain, Death’s Botanical Gardens can flower again.

Dum medium silentium omnia tenerent: et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet: omnipotens sermo tuus, Domine, de caelis a regelibus sedibus venit......(i)

Forty thousand bald men drowning in a stream- The like of light on all those bobbing skulls Has never been seen before. Such a death, says the painter ls worth while - it makes a colour never known. It makes a sight that's unimagined, says the poet. lt's nothing to do with me says the man who hates The poet and painter. Six million deaths can hardly Occur at once. What do they make? Perhaps An idiot's normalcy. I need never feel afraid When l salt the gentle snail - crue|ty's grown up And waits for time and men to bring into its hands The snail’s adagio and all the taunting life Which has not cared about or guessed its tortured scope.

While all things were in quiet silence and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty word leapt down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a stern warrior into the midst of the doomed land: bearing as a sharp sword, thine unfeigned commandment: while treading upon earth it touched heaven; and standing, filled all things with death......(ii)

(i) Introit - Sunday within the 8ve of Christmas - Wisdom 18, 14-15

(ii) Wisdom 18, 14-17

The poem by Peter Porter is reprinted by kind permission of the author.

The work was composed at Great Bookham, Surrey, September 1964. Revised Shootlands, Surrey, December 1970, and first performed by Helen Lawrence (soprano) and the New Music Ensemble conducted by John Carewe, Arts Council GB,

St James's Square, London 1965.