Michael Berkeley

Biography

Born: May 29, 1948; London, England  
A contemporary composer whose interests are wide-ranging, Michael Berkeley has gained a reputation for works that appeal to both emotion and intellect. The eldest son of composer Lennox Berkeley, he has moved from a comfortably tonal style in his earliest works to an edgier, more compact idiom. In 1993 his opera Ba Ba Black Sheep was a resounding critical and popular success at the Cheltenham Festival. Benefiting from a position as Read more composer-in-association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, he composed works that resonated with a sizeable audience. As a chorister of Westminster Cathedral, Berkeley received a solid grounding in music. Further lessons from Benjamin Britten, his godfather, confirmed his interest in the field, though he did not initially concentrate on composition while attending the Royal Academy of Music. Only later, when studying with Richard Rodney Bennett, did he decide to devote himself to the writing of music.

With early compositions such as Meditations (1975), the Oboe Concerto (1977), and the Fantasia Concertante and String Trio (1978), a certain conventionality was evident. Upon introduction of his 1983 oratorio Or Shall We Die?, a decided musical personality had formed. Thereafter, Berkeley's works had a distinctive quality, taut, clear-minded, and emotionally compelling, comprehensive yet well distilled. Critical attention given two works for strings, Gethsemani Fragment and Coronach, led to commissions from such groups as the Vanbrugh String Quartet (Magnetic Fields) and the Nash Ensemble (Winter Fragments).

Berkeley's The Secret Garden was given its first performance by Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra in 1998, meeting with enormous enthusiasm from the audience. In 2000, a second opera, Jane Eyre, was premiered at the Cheltenham Festival by the Music Theatre Wales company; it was subsequently toured in Britain. In 2003, performances of Berkeley's music were heard in New York (the premiere of his Chamber Symphony) and Sidney, Australia (Entertaining Master Punch and Odd Man Out). Other premieres included Abstract Mirror, written for the Chilingirian String Quartet; Gethsemane -- A Sacred Scena for ensemble with tenor soloist; and Tristessa, a work written through his association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Several of Berkeley's works have been recorded on the Chandos label. Read less

There are 26 Michael Berkeley recordings available.

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Works

Formats & Featured

Michael Berkeley


MOST POPULAR WORKS
No. 1. Amen dico vobis
No. 2. Ascendit Deus
No. 3. Beati mortui
No. 4. Jubilate Deo
No. 5. Laetentur coeli
No. 6. Qui me dignatus est
No. 7. Requiem aeternam
No. 8. Veritas mea
WORKS
Act I: Prelude
Act I Scene 1: A Passage from India: Punch! Punch! Punch! (Judy, Punch, Meeta, Bhini, Salaam-Captain, Father, Mother)
Act I Scene 2: In the House of Desolation: Punch. Punch. Where are your manner? (Father, Punch, Mother, Judy, Auntirosa, Harry, Captain)
Act I Scene 3: At the Council Rock: I am Shere Khan (Shere Khan, Mother Wolf, Father Wolf, Akela, Baloo, Bagheera, Wolves, Others)
Act I Scene 4: The Education of Mowgli: I will feed him (Mother Wolf, Father Wolf, Ka, Baloo, Bagheera, Grey Wolf, Mowgli, Chorus)
Act II Scene 1: The Ways of Man: Little brother, how often must I tell you? (Bagheera, Mowgli)
Act II Scene 2: Akela Misses His Kill: Free (Mowgli, Wolves, Akela, Shere Khan, Baloo, Ka, Bagheera, Mother Wolf, Father Wolf, Grey Wolf)
Act II Scene 3: A Death in the House: You're a liar (Harry, Captain, Punch, Auntirosa, Judy, Villagers)
I. Free and dreamy, as though improvised
II. Con malincolia, adagio
I. Moderato - Poco piu mosso - Meno mosso
II. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
III. Elegy: In memoriam Benjamin Britten: Andantino
I. Con energia - Calmo - Energico
II. Thernody for a Sad Trumpet: In Memoriam J.A., quarter note = 80
III. Con fuoco (with drive) - Calmo - Fuocoso - Maestoso
Act I: Orchestral introduction - Silence. Quietness (Jane, Rochester, Voices)
Act I: I am expected, I think (Jane, Rochester, Mrs. Fairfax, Adele)
Act I: I can sing you know, Miss Eyre (Adele, Jane, Mrs. Fairfax, Rochester)
Act I: Paris - (Jane, Adele)
Act I: The sound of a horse - Ah, Miss Eyre, there you are (Rochester, Jane)
Act I: And are there those in this house who love me? (Rochester, Voice of Mrs. Rochester)
Act I: Mr. Rochester, you are hurt (Jane, Rochester)
Act I: Jane, did you see no one, Jane? (Rochester, Jane)
Act I: Listen! Listen! (Rochester, Jane)
Act I: Listen now, listen, I will tell you a story (Rochester, Jane)
Act I: But I know this story (Jane, Rochester)
Act I: Silence. Quietness (Jane, Rochester)
Act II: Jane, my dear, it has come (Mrs Fairfax, Adele, Jane, Mrs. Rochester)
Act II: Goodnight, goodnight (Mrs. Fairfax, Adele, Jane)
Act II: Mrs. Rochester's wordless singing
Act II: Beautiful, so beautiful (Mrs. Rochester, Jane, Rochester)
Act II: Listen, Jane. Hear the rest of my tale (Rochester, Jane)
Act II: Silence. Silence. (Jane, Rochester, Mrs. Rochester)
Act II: Jane! Jane! Where are you, my angel? (Rochester, Jane)
Act II: Jane. Jane. Is it really you? (Rochester, Jane)
No. 1. Amen dico vobis
No. 2. Ascendit Deus
No. 3. Beati mortui
No. 4. Jubilate Deo
No. 5. Laetentur coeli
No. 6. Qui me dignatus est
No. 7. Requiem aeternam
No. 8. Veritas mea
I. Triton's Trumpets
II. The Grieving Queen
III. A Fanfare for the Hunstmen
IV. The Sorrowful Knight
V. The Wakeful Poet
I. quarter note = 54 [fairly free] - Calmo
II. quarter note = 84 - Maestoso - Animato - Un poco meno mosso - Presto -
III. Andante = quarter note = 56 - Adagio - Un poco piu mosso


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