Click the links below to see and hear the pieces in the suite.
£9.00 – £12.00
This suite was inspired by the play ‘Mother Courage and Her Children: A Chronicle of the 30 Years’ War’ by Bertolt Brecht (1939) and demonstrates the contrast between the drama and comedy in Brecht’s writing. In his younger days, Charles was an active member of West Kent Youth Theatre Workshop. In 1971, as Musical Director for the Workshop’s touring production of ‘Mother Courage’, Charles composed his own musical accompaniment in preference to the score by Dessau. The piano accompaniment in this suite was realised by Phil Toms from the original manuscript sketches under direction of the composer in 2022.
1. Mother Courage Song – In this dramatic and melancholy folk song, the plodding in the accompaniment indicates Mother Courage pulling her heavily laden cart as she travels across Europe selling food and provisions to soldiers in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). The gradual accelerando recalls Cossack dancing.
2. The Song of the Wise Woman and the Soldier – Mother Courage and her soldier son sing of a wise old woman who warns of the dangers of fighting in wars, while young soldiers dream of glory and heroism. An upbeat cheeky folk melody enhances the comedic flair of the characters by employing hornpipe and oom-pah rhythms, and humorous use of rests, rubato and chromatic shifts.
3. Fraternisation Song – This was originally inspired by the character Yvette who remembers enemy soldiers parading the streets on May Day. A slow sad opening contrasts with a lilting folk tune reminiscent of those played by 17th century wandering minstrels.
4. The Song of the Hours – The Chaplain sings of the Passion, or sufferings of Jesus Christ. With hints of Satie and Shostakovich, this slow waltz is both dramatic and emotional and should not be rushed.
5. Lullaby – Mother Courage sings a lullaby to her daughter who she mistakenly believes is merely sleeping after having beaten a drum to warn townspeople of invading troops. The simple, poignantly innocent lullaby has a charming musical box style accompaniment.
6. Song of Shelter – A slow lyrical melody weaves through different harmonic accompaniments. Mother Courage hears contented singing coming from inside a prosperous farmhouse as she pulls her cart through central Europe in the wake of ever more tattered armies.
7. 7a A Soldier’s Song, 7b Cook’s Song, 7c A Soldier’s Song (Reprise) – This rhythmic and humorous finale to the suite is in ternary form. The outer movements were inspired by the drinking song of the Soldier. The articulation and irregular rhythms should be carefully observed to enhance their quirky nature. The central section was inspired by the Cook’s Song and utilises varied dynamics and tempo changes for comic effect.