String Quartet No.2
Nelson Interludes (1995/2009)
duration: 12’
GRT • 060

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This 2nd string quartet is cast in four interludes taken from the opera Nelson and reordered for musical ends as follows:

I: The Founding of a Fiery Star
II: Queen of England
III: Like Hawks we Soar
IV: Shadow of an Empty Cowl

The Founding of a Fiery Star opens the opera and depicts Nelson at the height of the Battle of St. Vincent – a battle in which he first made a name for himself as a strategic maverick. In Act 2, Lady Emma Hamilton flirts with the married Nelson in Naples declaring she would bestow great accolades were she The Queen of England. By contrast, Like Hawks we Soar describes a predatory Nelson in the lead up to the Battle of the Nile, which ends Act 1. Shadow of an Empty Cowl is the longest of the four interludes. This tragic duet toward the end of Act 3 is essentially a fantasised wish for a better life between Emma and Nelson, who is then killed at the height of the battle of Trafalgar. Despite Nelson’s wishes, Emma was ridiculed and shunned by English society. She died ten years later, destitute and alcoholic, and was buried away from him at Calais, in France.