Commissioned by the University of Sydney to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
First performance by Roger Benedict (viola), Daryl Pratt (percussion), Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, 17 September 2012
The title of this piece comes, via Cormac McCarthy, from the 19th-century German poet Theodor Storm. In fact, in his poem ‘Hyacinths’, Storm wrote, ‘Ich möchte schlafen, aber du mußt tanzen’, which is the other way round: ‘I would sleep, but you must dance’. But it was McCarthy’s inversion of it in Blood Meridian that popped into my head one morning in mid 2010 as I was pushing my baby daughter’s pram through the streets in an attempt to get her to sleep. (Now that she is a toddler, it is Storm’s original line that seems the more apt.) The piece is in four connected movements, which might be thought of as ‘sleep’ – ‘dance’ – ‘sleep’ – ‘dance’, though there is no real program behind the music.