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- The Boys and the Pastille
- The Butterfly’s Waltz
- Venus and a Bobby
|Year/Date of Composition
||Early 20th century
||Optional speaker and piano
Programme notes by Havergal Brian
An optional narration is indicated above piano part. If this is not recited, Brian gave optional programmes summarising the action:
The Boys and the Pastille
- Two boys, having nothing to do one Sunday night, they couldn't play around the gas lamps, which were not lighted – because of Zepps – went into a church. During the service one of the boys, having a cold, coughed very badly and an old lady sitting behind him passed him a pastille. He bit it in two parts and gave one to the other boy. All the boys in the village got to hear of the story of the pastille, and having made sure of the church and which old lady had the "sucks", they flocked in a crowd on the following Sunday night. They crowded the seat before the old lady and, soon after arriving, all commenced to cough – but the old lady on this occasion had forgotten her pastilles.
The Butterfly's Waltz
- A butterfly on wing is chased by a wasp. The butterfly flitters round a rose garden always followed by the wasp. The butterfly discovers two lovers hidden behind a rose tree in an arbour. She is about to scream to them like a parrot, "I'll tell your mother", when the wasp comes and drives her away. So she doesn't scream, but passes (disgusted) into a vegetable garden and perches upon a nice fat broccoli – thinks she, "Here I will lay my eggs". Just as she is about to put the thought into execution, a naughty boy passes and knocks her off with his cap.
Venus and a Bobby
- In the black darkness of the city suburban streets, there gleams a mysterious red light. It is not still, but moves. As we approach the light we find underneath it the face of the representative and embodiment of the ponderous British law. It is a bobby! How queer is the law which needs a red light. Whilst we are in bed, he stands there, unseen, and often ignored, securing our safety. As the light leans at an angle, we may imagine that he is soliloquising upon his shoe laces or his socks.
- On this night, so full of terrors, he has been warned that a "Zepp" is somewhere. He looks above him occasionally – as though looking for a moth.
- Suddenly a light flashes from a bedroom window opposite. Thinks he – "Bedad a German spy". Says he – "But it cannot be, in the presence of the law". He gazes at the light, or where it comes from, and begins to lick his lips, for, instead of a spy he sees in the lighted room, the beautiful figure of a lady – placing her hat upon her head. He recognizes her as the Venus he had seen at the Opera. His truncheon falls to the ground. He is entranced. Like Tannhäuser, he loses himself. In a fit of enraged passion he exclaims – "How I would woo thee" and lies back propped up by the gas lamp. Suddenly the light from the window is switched off and as suddenly his senses return, in realising that the "Venus" may be descending to leave the house. Gathering himself together he rushes to the door – which suddenly opens and the sergeant calmly walks out. Bobby, disconsolate, looks at him and says – "Kiss me sergeant". The sergeant, laughing, replies – "As you like it".
Havergal Brian is an English composer whose reputation has been made and confirmed by such works as his English Suite, Cleopatra, and By the Waters of Babylon. He is there seen to possess high attainments enriched by a fertile imagination and marked by an interesting originality of thought. A lighter vein is revealed in his Festal Dance and Dr. Merryheart, where the grotesque and fantastic find ample expression.
These Three Illuminations throw some light upon the present situation in musical art, and may be said to reflect a few eccentricities of the past, as well as to probe like a search-light, or X-rays, into the mysteries of the future.
Although the composer has faithfully adhered to the rules of three-dimensional music, it may be permissible, nay even illuminating, to suggest that an intelligent critic may find herein some food for thought and a clue to the Fourth Dimension.
We have perhaps been too apt to seek for inspiration in the past from the gods of mythology, the heroes of romance, the classic drama, or the tragedies of life.
Our composer here invokes the Comic Muse, and invites us to participate in her mystic rites. Let us not be chary of sweet incense or our applause – “Si neque tibias Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton”.*
- Horace, Ode 1.1 ‘if Euterpe does not hold back from the tibia [i.e. flute], nor Polyhymnia shrink from playing the Lesbian lyre.’ — PML