Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016): Eight Songs For A Mad King

I just learned that Peter Maxwell Davies died in March of this year.  At the age of four, after a performance of an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, he told his parents he was going to become a composer.

He was considered an enfant terrible of 20th Century avant-garde music, and probably his most famous piece is “Eight Songs for a Mad King,” written about King George III using the king’s own words from songs he attempted to teach bullfinches to sing.  Supposedly it is a musical inversion of Handel’s “Messiah.”  Pretty anti-monarchical stuff.

It is scored for a baritone lead, who must have an incredible range.  I used to have a vinyl lp of the work on the Nonesuch label in which the baritone actually sang part of it in by projecting his voice into his nasal cavities to produce harmonics, in the same way that Tuvan singers from Mongolia do, which is called Dumchuktaar (Думчуктаар).

Ironic then, that after being appointed as the Master of the Queen’s Music in 2004, he quipped:  “I have come to realise that there is a lot to be said for the monarchy. It represents continuity, tradition and stability.”

Composer’s Wikipedia Entry

Grantchester Meadows by Pink Floyd

Today’s piece diverges a bit from my original intentions for starting this blog–to showcase my favorite works of classical music and where I was when I first heard them. Today’s piece is Grantchester Meadow by Pink Floyd (written by Roger Waters.) Floyd was really “pyschadelic” back then and created pieces using “found” sounds, tape loops, overdubs, synthesizers (new things back then), screams, etc.

Grantchester Meadows was the first song accoustic song I heard by them, and it instantly grabbed me. The lyrics about lying in a green meadows hearing about the splashing of kingfishers and the dark fox gone to ground, painted vivid images in my mind. It’s one of my favorite songs. It appears on the album, Ummagumma, and it ends with some interesting stereo effects of a fly buzzing around your head, a man walking down a flight of stairs, and a fly-swatter smashing the fly to bits.

I first heard the album at in a little bungalow along the railroad tracks in Mishawaka, Indiana, that my friend, Kerry Wade took me to where there were some psychotropic herbs ingested. The auditory and visual experience I had is something I still experience when I listen to certain pieces of music. Hmm. I wonder if that is technically a type of synesthesia.

Wikipedia entry for this song

The Monday Music Medicine Show – It’s All Greek To Me

A fellow blogger with eclectic musical tastes has a site with a musical medicine show every Monday. Something to heal everyone. But check out the song in this one post. It was used in Breaking Bad, but this is the original version. Sounds like a Candomblé waltz and the singer’s voice will give you chills.

Quantum Hermit

The Monday Music Medicine Show LOGO

Welcome to the Monday Music Medicine Show – THE 42!

Round and Round she goes, where she stops nobody knows.

Sometimes I don’t need to understand the lyrics. The music itself speaks volumes to me, of something inner, mysterious and necessary. Though just listening to the voice sing words is a sensual feast of unknown sustenance.

I first heard this song as background music in an episode of “Breaking Bad.” And the treasure hunt was on. Yet I discover that it is important for there to be a specific musicality which some other versions did not bring to me. So I searched, and found the perfect original verion. Jose Larralde has a splendid voice, speaking or singing. It is rich, deep and full. I have never found out what the specifics of the words are, and don’t feel I have to, at least not right now. It’s enough to just…

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Z is for Matthias Ziegler

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is Z, and my choice is Matthias Ziegler: Maschad
This is my last post of this year’s A-Z Challenge. It’s been fun. Thanks for everyone who visited and commented. Keep in touch.

Wikipedia entry for this Composer

Y is for Akiko Yano

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is Y, and my choice is Akiko Yano: Rose Garden

Wikipedia entry for this Composer

X is for Toni Xuclà

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is W, and my choice is Toni Xuclà: Petit mons

Wikipedia entry for this Composer

W is for Amnon Wolman

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is W, and my choice is Amnon Wolman: No Stopping Any Time

Wikipedia entry for this Composer

V is for Ian Venables

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is V, and my choice is Ian Venables: Caprice, Op. 35

Wikipedia entry for this Composer

T is for Karmella Tsepkolenko and David Van Tieghem

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is T, and my choice is Karmella Tsepkolenko: Concert-drama №2 & Cantata: Three Autumnal Elegies and David Van Tieghem: Number One-Hunted Animals & Ear to the Ground

Thanks to the amazing poetess,Marie Marshall, for suggesting them.

Wikipedia entry Karmella Tsepkolenko
Wikipedia entry for David Van Tieghem



Cantata: Three Autumnal Elegies (2015)



Number one Hunted Animals




Ears to the Ground

S is for Bright Sheng

I’m doing the A-Z April Challenge again. This year, I’m going to look only for composers born the same year as I was: 1955.

Today is S, and my choice is Bright Sheng: Seven Tunes Heard In China (1995)

Thanks to the amazing poetess,Marie Marshall, for suggesting him.

Wikipedia entry for this composer

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