Le Voyage dans la Lune Ed Hughes
- 14 mins
- 1 Piccolo, 2 Flute, 2 Oboe, 1 Cor anglais, 2 B-flat Clarinet, 1 Bass Clarinet in B-flat, 2 Bassoon, 4 Horn in F, 2 Trumpet in C, 3 Trombone, 1 Tuba, 1 Percussion, 1 Timpani, 1 Harp, 1 Orchestral Strings
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Le Voyage Dans La Lune is a continuous orchestral score of approximately 14 minutes comprising two outer fast sections and a slower inner section of a dream-like character. The work is directly inspired by the film Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902), written and directed by the pioneering French film-maker, Georges Méliès.
Méliès was influenced by 19th century interests in science and discoveries, as well as the science fiction of Jules Verne. At the same time his work seems fantastic, surreal and satirical. Some critics point out an underlying critique of colonial adventuring. The plot centres on a group of astronomers who decide to launch a rocket to the moon containing a handful of their number. They reach the moon (famously landing on the moon’s face) and then encounter a strange race of aliens, whom they battle and destroy. The return to earth involves a dramatic descent, a plunge into the ocean and then celebratory dancing.
The film inhabits a surreal and dream-like space, and uses an idiosyncratic visual language which transforms reality. This inspired an active musical response in my own score, which is by turns abrupt, smooth, lyrical and violent, and expresses something of the strange shifting surfaces and multiple and layered tempos evident in the film. The canons in the horns in the first scene reflect the intense arguments of the astronomers as they consider the project. The slower inner section is inspired by the scenes of the industrial City viewed from its rooftops by the astronomers. It also expresses the wonder of the astronomers as they see the earth rise from the perspective of the moon after their arrival there. The music of the final section is in places conflicted, reflecting the violent encounters with the moon’s inhabitants. It moves into a more harmonious phase at the close to match the celebrations upon the astronomers’ return from their adventuring.
The music could be considered to be a surreal mini-opera without voices, voicing instead the characters of the silent screen.
© Ed Hughes