John Purser, Circus Suite for Mick (piano duet)
Bound photocopy of handwritten score (10pp).
The Circus Suite sets out to entertain with the same fun, sentiment and vulgarity as the circus. Some of the music was intended for a production of Jarry’s Ubu Roi, but as there was not a farthing on offer to pay the musicians, it never happened. However, this explains the French flavour of some of the piece, especially the Overture. The Mal-de-Mer was composed for a queasy episode of sea-sickness in Jarry’s play. The March is one for the clowns.
When I completed the piece, I was worried that the Romance was too simple and sentimental for anyone’s good – but romance seems to have won through because people seem to like it.
The Huayno is a traditional Andean tune, chosen as my brother spent many years in Peru and Chile, often high up in the Andes visiting remote mines and hearing little bands of musicians descending thousands of feet, playing all the way, to a fiesta in some small mountain town. After letting the tune speak for itself, I broke it up into chords and rebuilt it into a kind of musical image of the andes themselves.
The Finale is roundabout music, with the cross-rhythms almost as complicated as the gearing and rotations and undulations of the gaily-painted horses – but it all evanesces as the whole troupe march off into the distance, vanishing overnight as is the way with circuses.
I composed this piece in 1975 for my brother Michael, as a thank-you for his financial support when I and my family were in Italy. Michael loves the kind of music played at circuses or by small town bands, be they in Germany, Italy or Peru.