Judith Bingham

Posted on December 3rd, 2009 by

The Premiere of Judith Bingham's 'Lost Works of Paganini' in Genova. 2007
The Premiere of Judith Bingham’s ‘Lost Works of Paganini’ in Genova. 2007

Peter has collaborated extensively on Judith Bingham since 2006. In that year, the composer was profoundly inspired by the arrival of Paganini’s violin in London, and became a fundamental part of the work and research that Peter was doing around this figure.

Judith Bingham-Shelley Dreams (2nd Movement)

PSS and Aaron Shorr (Piano)

Wilton’s Music Hall 21-01-09

Engineer-Colin Still (Optic Nerve)

The composer Judith Bingham is fascinated with Paganini’s tenure at Lucca. In her words:

“My interest in Paganini stems from my teaching. I teach at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and I found myself giving a seminar on Paganini, which was for composition students. I had long been interested in the inter-revolutionary period of history; the first quarter of the 19th Century is a fascinating period for us to study and consider.

For me Paganini is fascinating; he has long arms reaching both into the past and his future, our present. He stands as part of the long line of northern Italian violinists, Vivaldi, Tartini, Locatelli; at the same time he was incredibly influential on the new music of his day. Virtually everybody made an effort to hear him; the list of people-not just musicians and composers, but people like Goethe, like Mary Shelley, who hear Paganini play, is quite extraordinary. I like to think about comparing him to equivalent figures of more recent times, such as Jimi Hendrix.

At the same time as I was thinking about this, I found myself thinking about writing a piece for David Matthews. I had read about the creation of his scene amoreux or scena amorosa, a dialogue between two lovers, the G-string being the man, the E string the woman. Removing the two middle strings enabled him to execute these fantastic leaps from one string to the other. At the very least, it seemed to me to be very interesting idea for a wedding piece. I did not want to write an incredibly difficult piece, because I want my music to be useful, to be played. I was very interested in writing a piece that was easier to play than it sounded.”

The resulting work was The Lost Works of Paganini, a five movement work for solo violin. In 2008, Judith Bingham won the Instrumental prize at the British Composer Awards with Fantasia from The Lost Works.