We caught up with composer Raymond Yiu to talk about The World Was Once All Miracle, a new song cycle inspired by the work of Anthony Burgess and marking 100 years since his birth.
The concert also features the first European performance of Burgess’s own Symphony in C, along with a work by a composer whose music has influenced Yiu, Burgess and every other symphonist of the last two centuries: Beethoven’s Symphony No.8.
Tickets for this special night at The Bridgewater Hall on Tue 4 July are £12-£38 and available from here.
There’s more to Anthony Burgess than bowler hats and ultraviolence. The Guardian take a look at Burgess’s diverse, prolific career, beyond A Clockwork Orange, in advance of Raymond’s one-off performance at The Bridgewater Hall, and Graham Eatough and Stephen Sutcliffe‘s two new films of his work, Inside Mr Enderby and The Muse, premiering at MIF.
Anthony Burgess began writing poetry as an undergrad at Manchester University (six of his verses have been transformed into a song cycle for MIF by composer Raymond Yiu) but didn’t publish his first novel, Time for a Tiger, until he was 39. Gathering speed, he would go on to publish 32 more novels, plus several books on literature and linguistics, screenplays, music and superhuman quantities of reviews.
Burgess’s punishing schedule for fiction was 1000 words a day, seven days a week.
Burgess’s punishing schedule for fiction was 1000 words a day, seven days a week. Inside Mr Enderby was originally published under a pseudonym in case his breakneck output at the time – six novels in three years between 1959 and 61 – made him seem like a hack. Amazingly, he managed this with a shopping list that included 12 bottles of gin a week plus several bottles of wine for dinner with his first wife Lynne (her assault by American GIs in wartime London inspired A Clockwork Orange). He made his tea with five bags per cup.
Burgess distanced himself from Kubrick’s film of A Clockwork Orange, perplexed that this “very minor work” was the one people always wanted to know about. Yet its themes – rooted in his Catholic upbringing – of free will, sin and the wrong-headedness of forced reform, run throughout his life and work. Bucking received wisdom, not least the supposed link between high art and improvement of the soul, Alex is a Beethoven-loving thug. Enderby is the other side of the coin, a flatulent slob poet who pens his verse on the loo.
Burgess was enamoured enough with his own comic creation to bash out four Enderby novels between 1963 and 84. In celebration of Burgess’s centenary, MIF will premiere two new films, No End to Enderby, by Graham Eatough and Stephen Sutcliffe – a reminder of how fun and daring the books could be, playfully using time travel and parallel universes to question what artists leave for posterity.
You can see No End to Enderby at the Whitworth from 30 June-16 July.