Temper, temper Mr Nyman

Dear me, Mr Nyman. Calm yourself down.

It has been reported in the Telegraph recently and elsewhere that Nyman has recently thrown his toys out of the pram on being told the Covent Garden will not be commissioning an opera from him. In petulant style, Nyman is reported as having ranted on Facebook about not wishing to pay his taxes to a nation that does not wish to support his work.

As a composer-colleague of mine observed on Wednesday, Covent Garden are turning composers down a lot of the time, and why should Nyman be any different ? Simply because Nyman is already an established and successful composer doesn’t mean that a major national opera house should take work from him by default. Covent Garden declared that Nyman’s musical language ‘is not what we want to pursue in our next commissions,’ before adding that this is not a dismissal of Nyman as a composer.

It does seem appropriate that British musical institutions support home-grown composers; and Covent Garden do so – earlier this year saw the premiere of Judith Weir’s Miss Fortune, and last year it was Turnage’s Anna Nicole, whilst the Linbury has in recent years housed Luke Bedford and James Macmillan premieres. So he can’t throw that at them.

Whatever your views about Nyman’s music, it does seem rather childish to adopt an ” I’m British, therefore British opera houses should commission me” attitude, which rather smacks of childish temper-tantrums. Especially when your shouting and stamping can be heard all the way from your home in Mexico City.

Come along, Michael; other composers have been disappointed too. Just get on with it.

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