Keith Burstein

Why I booed Birtwistle

A composer recalls a key moment in the battle for emancipation from the ivory tower of atonalism

Atonality’s last gasp: Gawain (François Le Roux) holds the Green Knight’s severed head in the 1994 Royal Opera House première of Harrison Birtwistle’s opera Gawain. Credit: Donald Cooper /Alamy Stock Photo

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