Macbeth (1962)


There is relatively little documentation on the production of ‘Macbeth’ and its accompanying soundtrack, however Gerhard’s score seems to continue in his composition of music which eschew melodic figures in favour of atmosphere and texture. Note clusters define the harmonic character of the musical accompaniment, alongside glissandi, nail-files on piano strings, and other noisy instrumental textures and percussion, mimicking the sounds Gerhard had developed in his work with musique concréte in the preceding years.

‘Macbeth’ was the final production Gerhard work on for the Royal Shakespeare Company. With the decline of his health, the time pressures of a theatrical production made composition impractical, and the number of large scale commissions that dominated his output in the 1960s indicate his creativity was drawn elsewhere. He did however, rework the material written for this production for a 1964 BBC Radio production of ‘Macbeth’, in which a couple of the original theatrical cues resurfaced.

142Electronic sound assemblages by Roberto Gerhard, possibly related to his soundtrack to the theatrical production of ‘Macbeth’