On 15th July my new piece for piano, commissioned by the Ryedale Festival, was premiered at St. Michael’s Church, Malton.
I had been asked to write a piece to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, to match the rest of the concert programme, which started with two works – Bach-Brahms’ Chaconne in D minor for the left hand and Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand – associated with pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the war. Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, written in memory of friends he had lost in the war, concluded the programme. All three pieces were given wonderful performances by pianist Clare Hammond.
In writing Rupture this I felt that there were some things I should avoid. I did not try to write a ‘commemorative’ piece; 100 years ago was not the end of the war and all of its tragedies. Nor did I try to write a ‘sad’ piece; as Ravel said of his Tombeau de Couperin, ‘the dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence’.
What I set out to capture, rather, was the sense of the ‘break’ that 1914 represents in history; the ‘break’ which saw the end of the world as it was before. My piece aims to recreate such a ‘rupture’ in an abstract manner.
I am very grateful to Clare not only for her fantastic performance on the day but for taking the time to record the piece as well.