Duration c.25’
Instrumentation: electric guitar, bass clarinet, electric keyboard, 2 violas, cello, double bass
First performance: La Botanique, Brussels, October 15th 1998

Note : After the Requiem (1990)

After the Requiem (1990)

The original After the Requiem had been written in 1990 for the electric guitar of Bill Frisell, plus 2 violas and cello (members of the Balanescu Quartet) specially for a recording by ECM. It is based on Cadman Requiem (1989) which had been written for the Hilliard Ensemble in memory of my friend and sound engineer Bill Cadman, who was killed in the Lockerbie air crash. The piece is "after" the Requiem both in the musical sense of being based on it, in the chronological sense of following on from it, and in the spiritual sense of representing that state which remains after mourning is (technically) over.

I had delayed for some time any live performance, preferring to see if it would be possible to find a moment when my diary and that of Bill Frisell might coincide. When this proved impossible I modified the piece slightly to perform it with my ensemble, featuring my guitarist James Woodrow and changing the string trio parts to viola, cello and bass (for myself to play).  In 1998 however I made an new version to include other players in my ensemble - bass clarinet, second viola, electric keyboard - and extended the music at the same time. I added a prelude to feature the solo bass clarinet, a section within the body of the music and an extension to the end which drew on the original source Invention of Tradition, for which Bill Cadman had done the sound design. I also lengthened the section in which the guitar improvises. This is the version which I now prefer to play with my own ensemble.

The dedication remains to the two Bills (Cadman and Frisell).

Duration: 15’
Dedicated to "my companions in France, Summer 1989".
Commissioned by the Delta Saxophone Quartet.
Instrumentation: Saxophone quartet (soprano, soprano, alto, baritone).
First performance: Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester, 3 October 1989.

Note : Alaric I or II (1989)

Alaric I or II (1989)

(dedicated to my companions in France, Summer 1989)

This saxophone quartet is scored for two soprano saxophones, plus alto and baritone, rather than the more common SATB, to mirror the instrumentation and pitch ranges of the more familiar string quartet. I have been interested in the saxophone as a concert instrument for some time and had, of course, known the jazz repertoire fairly well from the time when I worked as a jazz musician in the early 1960's. Indeed, in my first opera Medea I included two saxophones (soprano doubling alto, and alto doubling tenor) in the orchestra both to replace oboes and at the same time to reinforce the chorus. I also wrote an operatic paraphrase, called Allegrasco, of that opera for soprano saxophone and piano in the early 1980's. I have always enjoyed Percy Grainger's views on orchestration and his thinking about the saxophone is particularly illuminating (he made transcriptions and arrangements of early music for the saxophone, for example, finding the instrument's tone quality, especially in ensemble, as a modern equivalent of the sound of medieval instruments).

Alaric I or II was written during the summer of 1989 when I had no access to any instrument or recording equipment and so the musical references which I wanted to include were done, imperfectly, from memory. These included parts of my second opera Doctor Ox's Experiment (then only existing in sketch form), the work of the Argentinean bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi and so on. I also included a number of extended techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics and extreme registers. The piece is technically quite difficult and, curiously, it is the lower instruments which have the hardest parts - the baritone sax having some altissimo passages and, eventually, ending the piece with a brief elegiac solo in the pibroch piping tradition. The piece is essentially lyrical and even vocal in character, thereby following Grainger's idea of the saxophone family (SATB) as a parallel to the family of human voices.

The title comes from the name of the mountain, Mount Alaric, in South West France, opposite the Chateau where I spent the summer. No-one seemed to know which of the two "King Alarics" the name referred to.

Gavin Bryars




Duration: 15’
Instrumentation: basset-horn/bass-clarinet, violin, piano, electric keyboard (Korg M1), 2 electronic percussion
First performance: Jazzatelier Ulrichsberg, Austria, May 1st 1992

Duration: 20’
Instrumentation: Soprano saxophone or clarinet and piano.
First performance: Leicester University, 7 December 1983. 20 minutes.
Instrumentation:(ensemble version): clarinet, piano, violin, electric guitar, bass,
2 percussion (marimba, vibes, bells, bass drum, tam-tam).  

Version for sax/ clar and strings

Dance by Edouard Lock, after Tchaikovsky
Duration 80’
2 violas, cello, piano
First performance Ottawa April 20th 2007

11 pieces for tenor voice, electric guitar, 2 violas, cello, bass
Text, Anonymous, Gaelic (9th to 16th century)
First performance (7 pieces) Iarla O'Lionaird, voice, Leo Abrahams, guitar, Gavin Bryars, bass, members of the Crash Ensemble
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin November 2008
(others performed March/April 2009, Waterford and Limerick)

Text: Thomas De Quincey
Duration: 7'
Dedication: Members of the Hilliard Early Music Summer School Cambridge 1997
Unaccompanied voices (SSATTBarB)
First Performance: Members of the Hilliard Early Music Summer School, Emannuel Reformed Church, Cambridge August 2nd 1997

Note : And So Ended Kant's Travelling In This World (1997)

And So Ended Kant's Travelling In This World (1997)

As my contribution to the Hilliard Ensemble's Summer School, for which I was composer-in-residence, I wrote two works for the entire group of tutors and students: this work, which lasts about 7 minutes, and the Three Poems of Cecco Angiolieri. The text is taken from Thomas de Quincey's The Last Days of Immanuel Kant, a work which I have planned several times for operatic treatment and which I intend to bring to completion at some stage, and describes Kant's last journey, a futile and inconclusive visit to a friend in the country. As the students on the course, many of whom were professional singers, were drawn from all over the world I felt that it would useful to write something in English, almost as an exercise in diction. In the event the words which caused most difficulty and disagreement were the (German) words "General von Lossow". When introducing the piece in the final concert I found myself on the verge of making the rather tactless reference to 'almost starting World War III'....

The music is for five-part choir: sopranos, contraltos, tenors, baritones and basses with the basses been given a low C on the final chord.

The piece is dedicated to the members of the 1997 Hilliard Summer School.


In particular the cottage itself, standing under the shelter of tall alders with a valley silent and solitary stretched beneath, through which a little brook meandered, broken by a waterfall whose pealing sounds dwelt pleasantly on the ear, sometimes on a quiet sunny day gave a lively delight to Kant. Once the little pastoral landscape suddenly awakened a lively remembrance, which had long laid sleep, of a heavenly summer morning in youth, which he had passed in a bower upon the banks of a rivulet that ran through the grounds of a dear and early friend, General von Lossow. He seemed to be living over that morning again, thinking as he then thought and conversing with belovèd friends that were no more.

His very last excursion was not to my cottage but to the garden of a friend. He was to meet this old friend at the gardens, and I awaited him. Our party arrived first and had to wait. Such. however, was Kant's weakness that after waiting a few moments, several hours, he fancied, must have elapsed. So his friend could not be expected and he cam away in great discomposure of mind.

And so ended Kant's travelling in this world.

Thomas de Quincey

Percussion quintet
Dedicated to Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon
First performance: Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon
Salle Varèse, National Conservatoire of Music, Lyon November 13 2009

Duration: 15’
Instrumentation: 2 violins, clarinet/bass-clarinet, electric keyboard (Korg M1), 2 percussion
First performance: Teatro Alameda, Seville, September 14th 1992

Note : Aus den Letzten Tage (1992)

Aus den Letzten Tage (1992)

In April 1992 I wrote a piece for two violins and optional synthesiser for an exhibition called The Last Days which opened the Seville Expo. The idea of the exhibition was to look at the end of the century in a non-celebratory way - in opposition to the nonsensical millennium approach. I called the piece Die Letzten Tage since it was the Austrian Karl Kraus whose sardonic writings informed the spirit of the exhibition. Aus den Letzten Tage  takes elements from this piece, changed in structure and modified for full ensemble.


For three sopranos
Duration 4’
First performance, Wedding of Andreas Friman and Maria Mellstrom,
Stockholm, September 17 2005

(note: version for soprano, tenor, viola, bass clarinet, double bass given preview performance by Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, Morgan Goff, Roger Heaton and Gavin Bryars, Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers, September 10 2005)

Note : Text of "Bibe aquam" (2005)

Text of "Bibe aquam" (2005)

for three sopranos

dedicated to Andreas Friman and Maria Mellstrom



Bibe aquam de cisterna tua et fluenta putei tui

Deriventur fonts tui foras et in plateis aquas tuas divide

Habeto eas solus nec sint alieni participles tui

Sit vena tua benedicta et laetare cum muliere adulescentiae tuae

Cerva carissima et gratissimus hinulus

Ubera eius inebrient te omni tempore in amore illius delectare iugiter



Drink waters out of thine own cistern and running waters out of thine own well.

Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets

Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.

Let thy fountains be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

(from Proverbs ch.5 v.15-19)