ComposerJulia Usher
DifficultyDifficult
PublisherPrimavera
Exam gradeDiploma
Exam boardAssociated Board
Exam instrumentfrench horn (F)
Instrumentsfrench horn and piano
Printed sheet music
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Picture of Sheet music for French horn and piano by Julia Usher

A recital piece for horn and piano. Duration 12 mins. The Old Man of the Sea was a set piece for French Horn on the Associated Board Diploma Syllabus. It was given its World Premier by Henryk Sienkiewich.

I based this dramatic and challenging work on a Theatre Piece, The Orford Merman - which was directed by Michael Finnissy, and performed in the Blackheath and Arundel Festivals. The protagonists were the National Theatre actor Malcolm Sinclair, and dancer Matthew Hauxwell.

Wanting to use the musical material again in a concert work, I imagined other mysterious figures of the margins of the sea - the alarming tormentor of Sinbad the Sailor - and also Procrustes, the old man who racked sailors on his bed, whom he stretched until they fitted it. He was a shape-changer, as unpredictable and demanding as the Sea itself.

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