Prelude to Ophelia

For: Solo instrument (Piano)
page one of Prelude to Ophelia

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Composer
Year of composition
2009
Difficulty
Difficult (Grades 7+)
Duration
6 minutes
Genre
Classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Inspired by Millais’ painting the Prelude is a musical summary of Shakespeare’s Ophelia narrative, reflecting the symbolism associated with the willow, forsaken love. It aims to capture something of Ophelia’s bewilderment and despair at being spurned by Hamlet - following the accidental slaughter of her father at Hamlet’s hand - and the beguiling welcome of release in death as she drifts downstream, borne on the water’s surface by the buoyancy of her skirts. The speech-rhythm of Ophelia’s name is used to generate some of the main melodic and rhythmic motives.

"There is a willow grows aslant a brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; . . There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke; When down her weedy trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide; And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up: Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element: but long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death." (Hamlet Act 4 Scene 7)

Recording at: http://youtu.be/bzSWgE330Uw

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