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From Birmingham .


From Birmingham
A Sacred Trilogy.
Words and Music by BERLIOZ
English Version by PAUL ENGLAND
Persons represented :
Joseph Joseph FARRINGTON
The Dream of Herod
The Flight into Egypt
The Arrival at Sais
THIS ' Sacred Trilogy' is Berlioz' only Oratorio, and he was particularly fond of it. The germ of the work was the Chorus of Shepherds, ' Thou must leave Thy lowly dwelling,' which Berlioz first wrote in a friend's album, and then for a joke, produced at a choral concert- as by ' Pierre Ducre ,' a quite imaginary seventeenth-century composer.
The rest of the work was composed a year or two later, and the Trilogy was first performed as a whole in 1854 with the greatest success. Of an earlier performance of part of it, before eight thousand five hundred people, Berlioz wrote : ' It created a stupendous effect. The audience wept, applauded, and involuntarily interrupted several movements. In the mystic chorus at the end ... I saw the religious ecstasy of which I have dreamt.' Speaking of another performance of the work, he mentions the emotion of the hearers and exclaims, ' Ah, how happy am I when my audience weeps ! '
The English version was not heard for a quarter of a century -until Sir Charles Halle gave it at Manchester in 1880. In some places on the Continent this work is occasionally performed at Cliristmas time as an opera.
The work is in three parts, entitled respectively
Herod's Dream, The Flight into Egypt, and the Arrival at Sais. As in many Oratorios of an earlier age, there is an important part for a Narrator, who at the beginning explains what the work is about, and during its course links up its action.
In the First Part, Herod dreams of the child who shall bring down his kingdom, and consults his soothsayers. Then there is a scene in the stable where the infant Jesus lies, and the section closes with the angelic choir's injunction to the Holy Family to flee into Egypt.
In the Second Part there is an Overture and then the scene of the Shepherd's farewell to Joseph, Mary, and the Child, followed by one entitled The Holy Family's Repose.
The last Part, representing The Arrival at Sais, shows the travellers vainly seeking hospitality and in the end finding refuge with some poor Israelites.
The music, particularly of the last two Parts, has wonderful gentleness and sweetness.


Unknown: Joseph Joseph Farrington
Unknown: Herod Robert Maitland
Unknown: Polydorus Joseph Farrington
Conducted By: Joseph Lewis
Unknown: Pierre Ducre
Unknown: Sir Charles Halle
A Centurion: Eric Greene
The Narrator: Eric Greene
The Father of the Family: Robert Maitland

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