King Arthur is the subject of many tales, stories, myths and legends – from his ascension to the throne by pulling the sword from the stone, his courageous battles with his fellow Knights of the Round Table, to his ultimately tragic love for Guinevere.
The Legend of King Arthur is a musical portrayal of some of the most important moments in the legend.
The opening of the work – a rock inspired overture – is a reference to Arthur’s final resting place (at least, so some legends have it!), the modern day Glastonbury (Avalon in the legend), and it is in this opening that we hear for Arthur’s theme.
This high octane opening gives way to a mysterious section – as Merlin (the mystical wizard) places in a stone a sword, upon which was inscribed “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king of all England”. The music describes the mystical surroundings as each of the contenders for the throne take their turn – to no avail – and with a return to the original theme, we hear Arthur pull the sword from the stone, to become King of England.
Next we hear a depiction of Arthur’s greatest victory in battle – The Battle of Mount Badon. He finally defeated the Saxon invaders of Britain – over 900 Saxons perished – and the victory brought about an extended period of peace. Arthur is portrayed as brave, bold and confident as he and his Knights end years of invasion.
The penultimate section of the work tells the tale of Arthur’s tragic love for Guinevere – his traitorous wife, who through her infidelity with Sir Lancelot (Arthur’s most trusted Knight), ultimately leads Arthur in to his final battle with his nephew, Mordred.
We hear the final bitter battle, which eventually ends with only Arthur and Mordred fighting. Arthur is wounded, fatally, by his nephew –at which point we hear with a sudden and dramatic sounding of Arthur’s theme – and is taken to Avalon to die.
The Legend of King Arthur is dedicated to Michael Bach and Brass Band Bürgermusik Luzern, who commissioned the work.