Born in Beja (now Portugal), in 1040, Al‐Mu’tamid is one of the greatest writers of the Al‐Andalus (Iberian Peninsula under Muslim government, between 711‐1492 AD). After having served as governor of Silves, Al‐Mu’tamid became the king of the taifa of Seville in the year 1069. Defeated by Yusuf Ibn Tasufin, Al‐Mu’tamid was forced into exile in Morocco where he died in prison at Agmat after writing his own epitaph (1095).
Elegia a Al-Mu’tamid is an homage to the forgotten king‐poet, who was one of the most lyrical poets of the splendorous Al‐Andalus. His poetry, torn between lauding a glorious past and lamenting a miserable present, reflects both his own life aspirations and the beginning of the fall of a flourishing cultural period in the Iberian Peninsula. The compositional work is based on Al‐Mu’tamid’s own poetic metrical formulae and their development throughout his life.
Commissioned by American Composers Orchestra, the work was premiered on October 14, 2011, at Carnegie Hall, under conductor George Manahan. Subsequently the work was re-orchestrated for full orchestra. It was performed and recorded by Portugal’s National Broadcast at Gulbenkian Foundation’s Grand Auditorium in Lisbon on April 11-12, 2012, under the direction of Joana Carneiro.