Caligula (1961)


‘Caligula’ originated as a soundtrack for a BBC broadcast of the play ‘Caligula’, scored for three flutes, three trumpets, two tenor trombones, one bass trombone, one mandolin and percussion. The catalogue entry indicates that magnetic tape also formed a part of this work, however this is not evident in either the score or the recorded feature. It’s possible that Roberto Gerhard initially planned to use magnetic tape materials but changed his mind at a later date.

A separate work for tape, also entitled ‘Caligula’, was composed by Gerhard in 1961. Its was premiered at the ONCE Festival, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1962 during Gerhard’s time at the University as a visiting professor of composition. The tape composition combines many recognisable elements of Gerhard’s tape music compositions – the sounds of Youngman’s sculpture, maracas from the electronic sounds of ‘Symphony No. 3 (Collages)’, the bowed ashtray that was likely used in ‘Coriolanus’, the ethical loops of ‘Asylum Diary’ – are combined here in rich juxtaposition with one another, resulting in a series of shifting atmospheres. It remains one of Gerhard’s most engaging electronic works.

001Audio recordings of Roberto Gerhard’s ‘Caligula’, as well as a number of electronic sound assemblages
013Audio recordings of Roberto Gerhard’s ‘Caligula’, as well as a number of electronic sound assemblages
289Audio recording of the first minute-and-a-half of Roberto Gerhard’s ‘Caligula’
340Audio recording of Roberto Gerhard’s soundtrack to the BBC radio play ‘Caligula’
538Audio recording of Roberto Gerhard’s ‘Caligula’
559-02Electronic sound assemblages by Roberto Gerhard, Roberto Gerhard’s ‘Caligula’, and a recording of Roberto Gerhard experimenting with harmonics on an electric guitar
565-05Audio recording of a part of an instrumental cue for the BBC radiophonic production of Camus’ play ‘Caligula’ by Roberto Gerhard