Star Song III

The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a typical northern Provence village.  Its houses cling to the hillside, nestling around a spectacular ravine scarring the mountains a few miles from the famous Gorges du Verdon.  Dominating the village are two craggy pinnacles, between which is suspended a chain, 700 feet long, and carrying a huge metal star.  No one knows its true origin; it has certainly been there since the 13th century, but probably much longer.  Many legends have inevitably sprung up around it. 


Since 1991 I have been writing a series of works inspired by Moustiers and its legends.  The first of these, La Légende de l’Étoile (for organ and percussion), Star Song I (for viola and piano) and Star Song II (for cello and chamber orchestra) explored aspects of the most well known legend - of a Crusader knight who hung the chain and star as a thanksgiving for deliverance from the Saracens.  In Star Song III I have turned to another story, which tells (like Romeo and Juliet) of two lovers from rival families, living on opposite sides of the ravine.  Forbidden to see each other, they hurl themselves from the pinnacles onto the rocks far below.  The two families, united at last in their grief, caused the chain and star to be raised over the village as a memorial.


The work is in no way programmatic, though in the first movement especially I had the image of the lovers firmly in my mind.  However, during the course of composition several personal and world events occurred which caused me to move quite distinctly away from the original source of inspiration. Although I have retained much of my planned overall structure, the final elegiac nature of the piece is a reflection of these much wider influences.


Star Song III was commissioned by Mrs. R. M. Brown and received its first performance by the Leopold String Trio on February 19th 1997 in the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester.


© Christopher Brown 1997