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Mr. Bear Squash-you-all-flat

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Constant Lambert

Constant Lambert

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General Info

Year: 1924
Duration: c. 15:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Edition Peters
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $33.75


Full Score
Flute (doubles Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Trumpet
Bass Trombone
Percussion (2 players)

(percussion detail desired)



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat was completed in June 1924, two months before Lambert's nineteenth birthday. For only the most unsatisfactory of reasons it remained unperformed until Timothy Reynish directed its premiere with, appropriately enough, an ensemble of students at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in 1979. Even more astoundingly there had been (January 1995) no subsequent public performance.

The scoring is for eight players—flute doubling piccolo, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, piano, two percussionists—and probably (though not definitely) narrator. The manuscript does not actually specify one, and Lionel Friend has suggested that the text could equally be taken as stylized stage directions. Certainly, though it calls itself a ballet, there are no directions other than ‘Curtain’ (bar 24) and ‘Slow curtain’ at the end, so this is possible. However, the closeness with which the speech patterns of the original text follow the rhythmic patterns in the music convince one that the words were intended to be heard, and this adds a further dimension to the work’s entertainment value.

The autograph also states that it is ‘based on a Russian children’s tale’. In fact, neither the present writer nor any Russian literary buff he has quizzed has ever come upon such a tale, but this means little. Lambert’s father did come from St. Petersburg after all, and could easily have passed on such a bedtime story.

The inspiration, though, is not Walton but Stravinsky, specifically The Soldier’s Tale (L'Histoire du Soldat), also allegedly based on a Russian folk-tale; the use of mixed dance and narration, the carefully picked ‘band’, the absence of any ‘meaningful moral’ to the tale would all proclaim it even if the music did not, which it certainly does. Far from being a prentice work dominated by the influence of another composer, it is a piece of high-class lampoonery and pastiche from which he finds it hard to exclude entirely his own well-formed personality and agenda. Throughout his life it was characteristic of the composer never to be able to resist the temptation affectionately to lampoon the things he loved best—in this case not just the great Igor and his own Russian forebears, but the cross-channel iconoclasts Poulenc, Milhaud and Satie, for whom he never lost his affection.

- Program Note by Giles Easterbrook for Hyperion Records

Many years ago children were first delighted by Mr. Bear, the Neighborhood Nuisance who roams the forest squashing the houses of other animals—and finally gets his own hilarious, smashing comeuppance.

- Program Note from Purple House Press

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by this Composer