Alexander Goehr – Stageworks / Opera and Music Theatre


1.       Arden muss Sterben – Arden Must Die

2.       Music Theatre Triptych: Naboth’s Vineyard, Shadowplay, Sonata about Jerusalem

3.       Behold the Sun (Die Wiedertäufer)

4.       Arianna

5.       Kantan and Damask Drum

6.       Promised End (scheduled for late 2010)


My first (and lasting) inspiration to write settings of dramatic texts derived from three principal sources:

First, the early dramatic works of Schoenberg: Erwartung and Die glückliche Hand. (I wrote an article about Erwartung in collaboration with my father, “Arnold Schoenberg’s Development towards the Twelve-Tone System”, reprinted in “Finding the Key”, Faber and Faber 1998);

Secondly, the essays of the Soviet film director, S.M.Eisenstein (“The Film Sense”, Faber and Faber 1943), where I found the analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s prose description of The Deluge, which I used for my Cantata, The Deluge Op.7 (1957-8) for soprano, contralto and ensemble, and Sutter’s Gold (1961) for baritone, chorus and orchestra;

Thirdly, my work at the Mermaid Theatre, where I was responsible for the musical production of Schweik in the Second World War and Galileo by Brecht, and wrote original music for Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus . This involved visits to performances of the Berliner Ensemble and a love for and preoccupation with the work of Brecht.

In the years 1957-60 I attempted unsuccessfully to realize opera projects: John Dee (with Christopher Logue), The Pied Piper of Hamelin (with David Drew) and The Trojan Women. But it was not until I received the commission to write Arden Must Die, that I wrote a complete opera.

As a result of the meeting with Egon Monk, who directed Arden in Hamburg, I wrote music for a number of his films: Fallada’s Bauern, Bomben und Bonzen, Brecht’s Die Gewehre der Frau Carrar, Feuchtwanger’s Die Geschwister Oppermann, and Giordano’s Die Bertinis, all produced by Studio Hamburg.