The Kennedy Center

Overture, The Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil

About the Work

Gordon Jacob Composer: Gordon Jacob
© Richard Freed

Gordon Jacob, one of Malcolm Arnold's teachers at the RCM, was represented in the first Hoffnung Festival by his Variations on "Annie Laurie." He is remembered primarily as an outstanding orchestrator and arranger. He orchestrated the suite English Folk Songs, which his teacher Ralph Vaughan Williams composed for band, as well as ballets by various composers, and even music by Noel Coward, but he also composed many original works—concertos, symphonies, cantatas, songs, chamber music, film scores, music for radio—and he published three didactic works. He was made CBE in 1968.

This rumbustious parody of Rossini's style was composed in 1960 for the BBC Concert Orchestra, which introduced it under Vilém Tausky in a broadcast concert that year. (Tausky added the opening bars, in fact, with the composer's approval.) The piece is a no-holds-barred workout on familiar material such as could be brought off only by a certified master of the modern orchestra with a free-wheeling imaginativeness to match his technical skill.