Anna Clyne

About the Piece

Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra:, Narrator or Audio Track
Duration: 15 min

Program Note from the composer:

Sound and Fury draws upon two great works of art for its inspiration: Haydn’s Symphony No. 60 (“Il Distratto”) and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The piece was premiered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on a program that included this Haydn symphony.

“ll Distratto” incorporates Haydn’s music for Le Distrait, a play by Jean-François Regnard, so it seemed fitting to draw inspiration from both musical and literary sources for Sound and Fury. To begin, I listened to “lI Distratto” many times and on a single sheet of paper, I wrote down the key elements that caught my ear, which ranged from rhythmic gestures to melodic ideas, harmonic progressions, and even a musical joke (Haydn brings the feverish final prestissimo to a grinding halt for the violins to re-tune). I chose between one and four elements from each of the six movements and developed them though my own lens – layering, stretching, fragmenting and looping. Whilst experienced as one complete movement, Sound and Fury is also structured in six sub-sections that follow the same trajectory of “ll Distratto.”

In the fifth section of Sound and Fury I looped a harmonic progression from Haydn’s Adagio in “ll Distratto,” and this provides a bed of sound to support the delivery of “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…,” the last soliloquy delivered by Macbeth upon learning of his wife’s death, and from which this work takes its title.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The connection to Shakespeare’s play emerged gradually during the writing process, but especially after watching a recording of a 1979 masterclass with Sir Ian McKellen analyzing this soliloquy’s imagery and rhythmic use of language. Time lies at the heart of it – “hereafter … time … tomorrow … to day … yesterday …” and music provides us with this framework. The last line of this soliloquy (“Signifying nothing.”) is incomplete; McKellen explains “the beats of the rest of that pentameter are not there – because the end of the speech is total silence – total oblivion – total emptiness.” So rich in imagery and metaphor, I also found inspiration in Shakespeare’s rhythmic use of language. For example, before delivering this soliloquy, and after learning of his wife’s death Macbeth says, “She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word.” McKellen says: “There’s something about that line which trips – in Hamlet’s words – tick tocks like a clock.” This is something that I play with also – layering rhythmic fragments that repeat and mark the passage of time.

My intention with Sound and Fury is to take the listener on a journey that is both invigorating – with ferocious string gestures that are flung around the orchestra with skittish outbursts – and serene and reflective – with haunting melodies that emerge and recede. Thank you to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, The Orchestre National de Lyon and Hong Kong Sinfonietta for this opportunity to delve into “ll Distratto” for the first time, and to revisit Macbeth.

Anna Clyne, 2019

Conductor’s Perspective

This work is very challenging. I have done it with a junior All-State Orchestra, so it’s possible with younger musicians. Though it’s not easy to put it together, it’s totally worth it! The sections are very different in style with each other, while each section is cleverly crafted with 2-3 themes/materials interwoven with each other. There are some less-tonal fast passages for the strings, while the wind principals often have solo roles.

The narration can be done by a live narrator, or the rental materials include an audio track to be played back. It’s very very effective and a wonderful piece, and works well with other Shakespeare themed pieces.

About the Composer

Described as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods” in a New York Times
profile and as “fearless” by NPR, GRAMMY-nominated Anna Clyne is one of the most in-
demand composers today, working with orchestras, choreographers, filmmakers, and visual
artists around the world.

Clyne has been commissioned and presented by the world’s most dynamic and revered arts
institutions, including the Barbican, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic,
MoMA, Philharmonie de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, San Francisco Ballet, and the
Sydney Opera House; and her music has opened such events as the Edinburgh International
Festival, The Last Night of the Proms, and the New York Philharmonic’s 2021–2022 season.

Clyne often collaborates on creative projects across the music industry, including Between the
Rooms, a film with choreographer Kim Brandstrup and LA Opera, as well as the Nico Project at
the Manchester International Festival, a stage work about pop icon Nico’s life that featured
Clyne’s reimagining of The Marble Index for orchestra and voices. Clyne has also reimagined
tracks from Thievery Corporation’s The Cosmic Game for the electronica duo with orchestra,
and her music has been programmed by such artists as Björk.

Several recent projects have explored Clyne’s fascination with visual arts, including Color Field,
inspired by the artwork of Mark Rothko; Abstractions, inspired by five contemporary artworks;
and Woman Holding a Balance, a film collaboration with artist Jyll Bradley. Other recent
collaborators include such notable musicians as Jess Gillam, Martin Fröst, Pekka Kuusisto, and
Yo-Yo Ma.

In 2022–2023, Clyne serves as Composer-in-Residence with the Philharmonia Orchestra and
the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra starting in
the 2023–2024 season. Past residencies include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Chicago
Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, and the Scottish Chamber

Clyne’s music is represented on several labels and her works Prince of Clouds and Night Ferry
were nominated for 2015 GRAMMY Awards. Her cello concerto DANCE, recorded by soloist
Inbal Segev, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Marin Alsop, has garnered more than
seven million plays on Spotify.

Clyne’s music is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.

This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

Performance Materials

● Perusal Score here on Boosey & Hawkes

● Score and parts rental through Boosey & Hawkes


Recording on YouTube by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Catherine Larsen-Maguire.