program notes by composition > P > Peterloo Overture

Peterloo Overture

Sir Malcolm Arnold / arr. Charles Sayre

Peterloo Overture “Peterloo” is the derisive name given to an incident in 1819, in St. Peter's Fields, Manchester, when an orderly crowd of some 8,000 people met to hear a speech on political reform. When they were interrupted by the Yeomanry and cavalry, 11 people were killed and 400 injured. This overture attempts to portray these happenings musically, but after a lament for the killed and injured, it ends in triumph, in the firm belief that all those who have suffered and died in the cause of unity amongst mankind will not have done so in vain.

Composer Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921 – 2006) was a trumpet player and renowned English composer of works in many genres. He wrote for over 100 films, winning an Oscar for The Bridge on the River Kwai . He was a Conscientious Objector who volunteered for service after his brother’s death in the war, then wounded himself to return to civilian life. His style is tonal and rejoices in lively rhythms, brilliant orchestration, and an unabashed tunefulness.

Last updated on May 8, 2022 by Palatine Concert Band