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Dialectic for String Quartet, Op. 15 (1929)

Alan Bush has said that this work owes its title to its musical construction. The opening bars provide the source from which the whole of the rest of the movement is derived. Five main themes are stated developed and recapitulated in combination with one another. Finally, their contradictions are resolved in a mood of optimism.

The Quartet consists of a single extended movement, in the sonata form so typical of string quartet writing since the time of Haydn. It falls broadly into the customary sections - exposition, development and recapitulation.

Alan Bush comments: "This was my first extended work to be organised not only harmonically and rhythmically, but also thematically: the exposition contains five subjects, and all of these, as well as the counter-melodies heard with them, are derived from the work's opening, a passage played in unison. It occurred to me that the way in which these subjects, with their notes of varying length, swing from fast to slow, and then from faster to slower, is reminiscent of the developing contradictions in Hegelian dialectic. Moreover, the exposition has an objective character: the development is agitated and emotional, while the 'thesis and antithesis' find their synthesis in the resolute energy of the recapitulation and coda".

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Major Works
Wat Tyler
Men of Blackmoor
The Sugar Reapers
Joe Hill - The Man Who Never Died
Orchestral Work
Symphony No. 1 in C
Symphony No. 2 'The Nottingham Symphony'
Symphony No. 3 'The Byron Symphony' with Baritone Solo and Mixed Chorus
Symphony No. 4 - Lascaux Symphony
Dorian Passacaglia and Fugue
Piano Concerto
Violin Concerto
Chamber Music
Dialectic for String Quartet
Concert Piece for Cello and Piano
Lyric Interlude for Violin Solo with Piano Accompaniment
Three Concert Studies for Piano, Violin and Cello
Piano Music
Twenty Four Preludes
Choral Music
'The Winter Journey' - A Christmas Cantata for Soprano and Baritone Solo, Mixed Chorus, String Quintet and Harp
Solo Song
'Voices of the Prophets' - Cantata for Tenor and Piano
'The Freight of Harvest' - Song Cycle for Tenor and Piano
'Life's Span' - Song Cycle for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano
'Woman's Life' - Song cycle for Soprano and Piano