The Genuine History of the Life of Richard Turpin

Programme Note

Dick Turpin was a highwayman who lived in England in the early part of the eighteenth century. He was born and lived most of his life in Essex, before moving to York, where he was captured, tried and executed in 1739. The same year, Richard Bayes, the landlord of what is now O’Neill’s in Leytonstone, published a pamphlet entitled The Genuine History of the Life of Richard Turpin. The pamphlet was a sensationalised, tabloidesque mixture of fact and fiction aimed at a mass market, and played an important role in the creation of the ‘Turpin myth’. My cantata of the same name sets a selection of extracts from the pamphlet. The piece begins and ends with rather moralistic reflections by Bayes about Turpin’s life and death. In between, accounts of Turpin’s sometimes absurd exploits are interspersed with letters exchanged between Turpin, his father and his brother while Turpin was being held in York Castle.

Year: 2024
Duration: 30′
Instrumentation: SATB, Organ

1. Alarming Essex
2. Eating Mince Pies with Mister Saunders
3. Son to Brother
4. Apologising to Mister Sheldon
5. Son to Father
6. Selling Mister Giles a Watch
7. Father to Brother
8. Shooting the Landlord’s Cock
9. Father to Son
10. Launching out into the boundless Ocean of Eternity