Hear the Musical Compositions of A Clockwork Orange Author Anthony Burgess, and Download His Musical Scores for Free

Most of us remem­ber Antho­ny Burgess not as the author of dozens of nov­els, as well as short sto­ries, essays, and poems, but as the author of A Clock­work Orange. This owes, for bet­ter or for worse, to Stan­ley Kubrick­’s 1971 film adap­ta­tion of the “bad­ly flawed” Amer­i­can edi­tion of Burgess’ 1962 dystopi­an satire, although even if A Clock­work Orange did­n’t over­shad­ow the rest of his lit­er­ary career, his lit­er­ary career would prob­a­bly still over­shad­ow what he con­sid­ered his life’s tru­ly seri­ous endeav­or: music.

“I wish peo­ple would think of me as a musi­cian who writes nov­els,” Burgess once went so far as to say, “instead of a nov­el­ist who writes music on the side.” Since even those of us who’ve read wide­ly in his bib­li­og­ra­phy may nev­er have heard any of the over 250 pieces of music he wrote in his life­time, today we offer you a lis­ten as well as a look at his orches­tral com­po­si­tions.

In the Spo­ti­fy playlists embed­ded here (and if you don’t have Spo­ti­fy’s free soft­ware, you can down­load it here), you can hear the albums Burgess: Orches­tral MusicThe Piano Music of Antho­ny Burgess, and the anthol­o­gy Antho­ny Burgess: The Man and His Music (the title of that last a ref­er­ence to This Man and His Music, the book that brought togeth­er his two great pur­suits most direct­ly).

“Music was at the heart of Antho­ny Burgess’s cre­ative life,” says the site of The Burgess Foun­da­tion, who there have made “scores of his music avail­able free of charge to any­body who wish­es to study or play it.” Pro­lif­ic in his writ­ing as well as his com­pos­ing, Burgess’ music includes a piece only dis­cov­ered in 2012, near­ly twen­ty years after death; the news clip at the top of the post briefly tells the sto­ry of Burgess’ “lost sonata,” his ear­li­est sur­viv­ing com­plete musi­cal work.

Many of Burgess nov­els, includ­ing but hard­ly lim­it­ed to A Clock­work Orange, sug­gest a deep inter­est and under­stand­ing of music, but they also (recall the Droogs’ wide lex­i­con of invent­ed slang) reveal a sim­i­lar capac­i­ty for lin­guis­tics. Call no Burgess fan a com­pletist, then, unless they’ve read his books, heard his music, and also read his trans­la­tions. “Trans­la­tion is not a mat­ter of words only,” the man once said. “It is a mat­ter of mak­ing intel­li­gi­ble a whole cul­ture.” Prac­ticed in fields as “untrans­lat­able” as poet­ry and as trans­la­tion-inde­pen­dent as orches­tral music, he should know. But one won­ders: what oth­er lit­tle-known cul­tur­al side career remains hid­den in the depths of the Burgess archives?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Antho­ny Burgess Names the 99 Best Nov­els in Eng­lish Between 1939 & 1983: Orwell, Nabokov, Hux­ley & More

A Clock­work Orange Author Antho­ny Burgess Lists His Five Favorite Dystopi­an Nov­els: Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Island & More

Antho­ny Burgess’ Lost Intro­duc­tion to Joyce’s Dublin­ers Now Online

Hunter S. Thomp­son Writes a Blis­ter­ing, Over-the-Top Let­ter to Antho­ny Burgess (1973)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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