Reading Gaol (op. 1)

For soprano and trombone quartet  – duration: 10’00”




Reading Gaol is a musical setting of the Ballad of Reading Gaol by the famous poet Oscar Wilde. Set to music are the last three stanzas of this dramatic poem. The text is as follows:

In Reading gaol by Reading town
  There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
  Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
  And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
  In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
  Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
  And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
  By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
  Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
  The brave man with a sword!

The composition was written for soprano Judith Weusten and the trombone quartet of the Conservatory of Amsterdam 2021: Wilco Kamminga, Arjan Linker, Joao Canelas and Bente van der Brug.