Ever heard the music of A Clockwork Orange?

Ever heard the music of A Clockwork Orange?


norman lebrecht

July 20, 2011

Not the Stanley Kubrick film soundtrack, which is mostly Beethoven 9th, but the songs that Anthony Burgess wrote for an unstaged musical of his novel. They are going to be performed in Manchester next year to mark the book’s 50th anniversary.

Malcolm McDowell as Alex in a scene from the infamous film version of A Clockwork Orange

Burgess has fallen out of fashion since his death in 1993. Most of the 33 novels are forgotten and the music he wrote remains unplayed. A book on the novels and the music by Paul Phillips, published last year by Manchester University Press, has hardly been reviewed. Editors with whom I discussed it could barely manage a yawn. Such are the fluctuations of fashion.

But Burgess will be back. He’s a marvellously fluent writer with an unerring rhythmic ear. The opening sentence of Earthly Powers is one of the most enticing in the English language.

See here for more events in the anniversary year.


Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone