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date: 12 April 2021

Keenan, Paullocked

  • Paul Griffiths


(b Birmingham, Aug 1, 1956; d Paxton Dene, June 26, 2001). British composer. He studied composition with Anthony Gilbert at the RNCM (1975–9) and privately with Bill Hopkins, whose adherence to Barraqué was important to his sense of the gravity of the artistic endeavour, though Boulez was the more powerful influence on the remarkable works of his student years. His bold Concerto for Groups of Instruments won a Royal Philharmonic Society prize in 1977, but more characteristic is his next major work, a setting of the first part of the Old English poem The Ruin. In its vision at once of loss and continuation, of grandeur and decay, the ancient text seemed to speak directly of the epoch in which Keenan found himself; it also encouraged a musical understanding of time as both past and present—though with its pastness evoked poetically, not by allusion to previous music or musical styles, which became increasingly common in the late 1970s and which Keenan resisted. The double soloists and the continuously diverse instrumental sounds and textures contribute to the experience of time as planar rather than linear, as well as to the work’s very specific identity....

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