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Love in fantastic triumph
by Peter Openshaw

Love in Fantastic Triumph (one of our winning three pieces in the Theorbo Today projet) is a setting of a poem by the Restoration female dramatist Aphra Behn (1640-1689).  I was looking for a poem from the period when the theorbo was in its prime, and chose this because it displays quite a modern sensibility, is full of expressive words, and is particularly suitable for a female singer.  I have modelled my setting on Purcell’s dramatic songs, several of which involve impassioned or distraught women.  Purcell wrote the incidental music for a posthumous revival of Behn’s play Abdelazer; it is not known if he had ever met her. P.O.

Peter Openshaw has been composing since childhood. From 1957 to 1962 he was a member of the Children’s Opera Group, who performed three of his stage works.  He read music at Oxford University, where he continued to compose, but did not pursue a musical career professionally.  In recent years he has composed mainly songs and chamber music.  In 2016 he joined the London Composers Forum, and is now their Secretary.  He regards himself as “an amateur composer with professional standards” and greatly enjoys working with professional musicians.

Love in fantastic triumph

Love in fantastic triumph sate

Whilst bleeding hearts around him flowed,

For whom fresh pains he did create

And strange tyrannic power he showed:

From thy bright eyes he took his fires,

Which round about in sport he hurled;

But ‘twas from mine he took desires

Enough t’undo the amorous world.


From me he took his sighs and tears,

From thee his pride and cruelty;

From me his languishments and fears,

And every killing dart from thee.

Thus thou and I the god have armed

And set him up a deity;

But my poor heart alone is harmed,

Whilst thine the victor is, and free!

Aphra Behn

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