The Cyprian Queen

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Delia created the music for a 1964 radio[1] programme catalogued as The Cyprian Queen (The Singing Bird), produced by Michael Bakewell.[2]

We did a play called The Cyprian Queen. Delia created a marvellous kind of strange, unearthly flute music.[3]

Delia always managed to soften her purist mathematical approach with a sensitive interpretative touch - ‘very sexy’ said Michael Bakewell on first hearing her electronic music for Cyprian Queen.[4]

Who is the Cyprian Queen?

In Euripides' play Hippolytus, the Cyprian Queen is mentioned:

She stands here at thy gate the Cyprian Queen!

and in his Medea the Chorus of Corinthian Women have a line:

When in excess and past all limits Love doth come, he brings not glory or repute to man; but if the Cyprian queen in moderate might approach, no goddess is so full of charm as she.

Robert Graves, in The Golden Fleece, identifies the Cyprian Queen with the triple goddess or the White Goddess:

I am the Triple Mother of Life, the mistress of all elements, the original Being, the Sovereign of Light and Darkness, the Queen of the Dead, to whom no God is not subject. I rule the starry skies, the boisterous green seas, the many-coloured earth with all its peoples, the dark subterrene caves. I have names innumerable. In Phrygia I am Cybele; in Phoenicia, Ashtaroth; in Egypt, Isis; in Cyprus, the Cyprian Queen; in Sicily, Proserpina; in Crete, Rhea; in Athens, Pallas and Athena; among the pious Hypoboreans, Samothea; Anu among their dusky serfs. Others name me Diana, Agdistis, Marianaë, Dindymene, Hera, Juno, Musa, Hecate.

while the programme notes for a Barbican, London production of Handel's Theodora say that the Cyprian Queen is the goddess Venus:

Valens leads the Romans in the sacrifice to Jupiter, also honouring Flora and Venus (‘the Cyprian Queen’), the goddesses of beauty and love.


The Performing Right Society's list of works by Delia Ann Derbyshire has:

Title: The Cyprian Queen
Writer(s): Derbyshire Delia Ann
Publisher: BBC Worldwide Music
Work number: 1471907X
Type: 10/00 [?]
Work status flags: Film/TV / 1st Lic Referral
Creation date: 11 August 1999



The Strange Unearthly Flute is the horizontal lines above the spoken voiceprints. The Cyprian Queen - clip from Wee Have Also Sound Houses - Spectrogram.jpg


  • Broadcast on 2nd March 1964 at 8:30pm on the Home Service.[1]
  • In the BBC Sound Archive on tape TRW 6062: "The Cyprian Queen (The Singing Bird)".[1]
  • There is a short clip in the 1983 BBC documentary "Wee Have Also Sound Houses" from 39:35 onwards, with the narrator and Delia speaking over it.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 6062.
  2. BBC Written Archives R97/27/1, a list of BBC Radiophonic Workshop engagements 1957-July 1968.
  3. Michael Bakewell in Wee Have Also Sound Houses.