Occasional Writings

Songs from Northern Seas

I got to know George Bruce's poetry when setting sonnets by Edwin Morgan for male choir (Edwin Morgan wrote an introduction to Bruce's collected poems). I first set two poems for The Stones of the Arch (2006), a commission to celebrate Steve Reich's 70th birthday.

On Madrigals - written for Aktuel

Like many Englishmen I had sung madrigals for pleasure - usually late at night with friends, after several glasses of wine. While these madrigals have their charm, and many are extremely beautiful, I found through embarking on an extended exploration of the madrigal as a creative venture that the richest source lies in the Italian Renaissance.

Notes for Huddersfield for performance of early works

The Squirrel and the Ricketty-Racketty Bridge

Notes on clarinets and clarinet music

Christopher Fox,  Music Dept., Huddersfield,

As requested here are some notes on clarinets and clarinet music. Hope they are useful.


Writing for the clarinet

(I'm writing this in response to the various questions which you pose, and for which I've added numbers)


"The composer as alienated performer"

Email to Christopher Fox re. Sharp Practice, for The Musical Times

Gavin Bryars, e-mail to the author, Monday, January 13, 2003 2:13 am

Bryars (with Tom Waits), Jesus’ blood never failed me yet, Point Music 438 823-2 (1993)

A number of these works, including Jesus’ Blood, will be revived in this year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Bryars, quoted in Keith Potter, “Just the tip of the iceberg: some aspects of Gavin Bryars’ music, Contact 22 (Summer 1981), p.11.

Bryars, “The versatile peer”, The Guardian, Friday Review (22 February 2003), pp. 18-19.


Edward James

A Meeting With Gavin Bryars

Edward James (1907-84) was a rich patron and collector who supported Dali and Magritte. He inherited the West Dean estate in West Sussex from his father but in 1964 donated it as a centre for arts and crafts. It remains a success but James disapproved of the way it was run and in the late 1970s told George Melly, who was co-authoring his memoirs: ‘I didn’t sign away a fortune so that middle-class couples could enjoy a rather cheaper holiday, as if they were in an hotel in Torquay’.1

Professor Derek Jackson (1906-82)

A Meeting With Gavin Bryars

Derek Ainslie Jackson was the son of Sir Charles Jackson, barrister, landowner, art collector and authority on English silver. Derek was very close to his twin brother Vivian and was devastated when he died in an accident in1936. After Rugby, Jackson went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took a first in Natural Sciences. He was then invited to undertake research in spectroscopy at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford, notably the determination of nuclear magnetic moments.

Interview With William Crack

Based On Interviews With Gavin Bryars On 20 July 1980 And Peter Dickinson On 25 April 1983

[2351 words]
The interview here is a conflation of what William Crack told Gavin Bryars and Peter Dickinson

PD Did you have to audition to get the job of Lord Berners’ chauffeur?

Interview with Peter Dickenson re. painting

BBC R3 1983

[3755 words – unchecked]

PD What are Berners’ paintings like?

Goldsmith's student

Dear Richard Turner,

Many thanks for your letter of December 9th asking me about Lord Berners. I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to respond but I have been away a lot over the last few weeks and I am only now catching up on mail.

With an address such as yours there is probably no other possible choice of dissertation subject....

To answer your questions.