So he is gone. A legend in his own Time. I read his most famous book in the 1980s while a registrar in Paediatrics. I subsequently read a lot about Time, as it is a major theme in Thomas Mann’s novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ that I have set to music. Two songs in the musical relate to time. One of them is called ‘A Brief History of Time’. I takes Hawking’s discoveries and juxtaposes them with the opening of Josef Haydn’s Creation: ‘In the beginning…….’. This recitative elides into a Waltz of the Spheres that celebrates an ‘ever-expanding universe’. To meet the challenge of representing the multifarious and confusing themes that Mann piles on to his ‘hero’, Hans Castorp, I combine this soaring theme with the trivial Partytime Polka (a rock song in disguise) that the hedonistic, fatalistic chorus sings (“E=MC2 – as if anybody really cared”).

Have a look at the score here:

A Brief History of Time extracted from Lyrics and Libretto

And here is an excerpt of the music: “Haydn” recitative first, followed by the waltz.