COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 77

Minstrel to an Unquiet Lady (1982)

for Tenor and Piano

Text by Florence Stevenson

  • Welcome All You Lords
  • Edward Was a King
  • The Road to Norfolk

Duration: 11 min.

Dedication: to Sonia and Jack Millstein

Recording: Albany TROY1353-54

Premiere: 1989; L. Robinson; A. Rosner; Kingsborough

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In 1980 my friend and bridge partner Jack Millstein, an attorney who also dabbled in theatrical production, told me of a drama by one Florence Stevenson, which read very well but did not seem to play effectively on stage. It was called The Chronicle of Nine and was something of a history of Lady Jane Grey. I contacted the author who was more than happy to give me permission to write an operatic version. The complete work has never been performed, but piano/vocal recitals of some 50 minutes of excerpts have been successful, and the four main orchestral excerpts are available on CD. That suite is substantial enough that I have now somewhat belatedly re-titled it Symphony No. 7 in A Minor, “The Tragedy of Queen Jane.

The structure Ms. Stevenson used, and that I carried through, includes a minstrel introducing each act in the drama. This was not uncommon in English opera and drama—we know it best these days in Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera (set in England, despite its German words and style). While my three minstrel ballads are fairly similar in design and dynamic, I strove for a really mellow and vocally tender, yet deep sadness, and I felt they would work as a separate piece, so again assigned a separate title and opus number, thus constituting Minstrel to an Unquiet Lady. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)