Born 28 April, 1926 in London, Burt found himself drawn to music at an early age. After leaving school and a short intermezzo in the field of natural sciences, he committed himself completely to music. His decision to become a composer faced an enormous obstacle: for three-and-a-half years (1944-1948) Burt had to serve in the army. On his return to England, he began to study in Oxford and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1951, he moved to Berlin for three years to perfect his composing skills. There, he met Boris Blacher, in whom he found the teacher he had always been looking for.
In 1956, after having spent a year in Rome, as well as one in London, Burt decided to move to Vienna, where he already knew Gottfried von Einem, and where he was able to find the musical atmosphere corresponding so much to his own character. Vienna was the place where the latent esspressivo, which characterises his musical language, pervaded even the most experimental and most modern works.
Quote Francis Burt: "More interesting than the question why I came here, is why I stayed. Firstly, in those days you could live in Vienna and be poor without having to feel embarrassed. This was quite important to me, as I had little money then and was not really prepared to take up a "real" job that would have earned me any. On the other hand, I always felt that this city - Nestroy's city - is the best possible antidote to the education I enjoyed. This is why I stayed - I always say temporarily permanently - until I was offered a professorship for composition and music theory at the University of Music and Performing Arts. That was the time when I had to cross out the word temporarily!"
Undoubtedly, Paul Celan was one of the most important poets writing in the German language after the Second World War. Born in the Bukovina as son of a German speaking Jewish family he lost both his parents during the war. He himself survived and was able to leave the country after 1945, emigrating to the West; first to Vienna, where he started a liaison with Ingeborg Bachmann, and later to Paris, where he lived as language teacher, translator and poet. In 1970 he committed suicide by drowning himself in the river Seine. – A tragic figure but a most marvellous poet. My piece was written in his memory and bears the title of his first major collection of poetry.
(Francis Burt, 18.04.2011)