Monologue for Strings

This sombre Monologue was written in 1959 for a competition when Peter Dickinson was a graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1959. It was known that the contest required quiet music and that the sponsor’s tastes were distinctly conservative. However, since a performance was attached, Dickinson wrote what he wanted regardless of these requirements.

The Monologue is based on the notes, but not the tune, from a phrase in the chorus of ‘People will say we’re in love’ from the 1943 Rogers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma. This comes at the start – softly in superimposed minor ninths – then a slow chorale develops for three-part solo strings and there are hesitant solos, glissandos and pizzicatos in an atmosphere of continuous uncertainty.

An early performance was in Athens, under Dinos Constantinides – whose Louisiana Sinfonietta has played it regularly at Baton Rouge, Louisiana - and the British premiere was under Roger Norrington at the College of St Mark and St John, Chelsea, on 25 May 1963. Recording by BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Clark Rundell on Heritage HTGCD 211 (2016).

© 2008-24 Estate of Peter Dickinson