AKALLABETH and other instrumental works


   Although the Akallabêth uses a number of musical themes already composed for other works in my ‘Tolkien cycle,’ it was always designed as a totally independent and original work. It was commissioned in 1982 by James Meaker both as a display piece and as a symphonic poem in rondo form based on one of the concluding chapters in J R R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. As such some of the material later found its way into the epic scenes based on other passages from the same book. 

   After a brief introduction based on the theme of Ilúvatar, the main rondo theme depicts the fleets of the Edain setting sail to Númenor, and after a second theme (in The Silmarillion associated with the Valar) the main rondo theme returns majestically. A pastoral interlude recalling the tale of Aldárion and Erendis leads to Sauron’s theme, and then to that of his enchantments (chiefly the Ring); both of these latter themes recur in Beren and Lúthien. 

   A third statement of the rondo theme leads to the return of the sea music, now turbulent and accompanying a more triumphal version of the earlier pastoral theme as the venturers of Númenor return as conquerors to Middle-Earth.  Finally the rondo theme returns for a fourth time, now corrupted by Sauron’s theme in the bass line, and his music now assumes an ascendancy.  A brief and sad reflection of the theme of the Valar depicts the sailing of the Númenoreans through the unnatural calm of the ocean towards the Blessed Realm; and then a violent eruption depicts the downfall of Númenor into the sea, and Sauron’s theme dissipates like a breath of wind.  The final section is a funeral lament, in which the rondo theme makes a final appearance; expanded for orchestra and chorus, this also appears at the end of The Fall of Gondolin. The piano rondo ends differently, however, with a heavy chord containing all the notes of the opening theme of Ilúvatar played simultaneously.
performed by the composer





Variations on a Welsh bardic melody



The original version of the Ap Huw Variations was devised for piano, and was commissioned for Gavin Parry who gave the first public performance in 1979; but it was always possible for the work to be played on the harp, and the original manuscript (now in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth) contains indications of the pedal changes required for this. Some years later I made a second arrangement as a concertante piece for piano and orchestra; but the score for this has been lost, and the variations finally found a place in an abridged form as the first part of the orchestral work The water is wide.
I              Theme   Lo stesso tempo

II             Passacaglia   Lo stesso tempo

III           Chorale   Lento moderato

IV           Meditation   Adagio

V             Dance   Vivo quasi valse

VI           Interlude   Meno mosso

VII          Madrigal   Lento e rubato

VIII        Dialectic   Maestoso

IX           Jig   Presto

X             Funeral march   Marcia funebre

XI           Finale   Tempo primo
performed by the composer
UMBAR  Legend for organ
   Umbar, in the mythology of J R R Tolkien, was a great haven in the south of Middle-earth famed as the place where the Númenoreans landed during the Second Age for the defeat of the Dark Lord Sauron; but in the Third Age, when Sauron rose again, it fell under the dominion of his servants and the Corsairs from Umbar ravaged the coasts of Gondor for many years. This work reflects both elements of the history of Umbar. It opens with a slowly descending whole-tone scale which recalls the theme used in my fragmentary settings for The Lord of the Rings to represent the Ringwraiths, who in their original human form derived their ancestry from the 'Black Númenoreans' for whom Umbar was a stronghold. This is followed by a long series of baleful chords which finally give way to the music associated in the Akallabêth with the journeys to Middle-earth undertaken by the Númenoreans, and the theme which in The Silmarillion is associated with the Elder King is heard. But at the point where in the earlier work the theme of the Dúnedain returned, here the baleful chords lead back to the opening descending scales, and the work ends ambiguously.

   The Eight Studies were written over a considerably period of years, and were collected for publication in this form only in 1998.  All were originally written for solo piano, and are studies in the most obvious sense of the word. Several were written for specific occasions, and others were designed as exercises in various forms of compositional technique. A number have deliberate references, thematic and stylistic, to other composers ranging widely from Puccini to Schoenberg and from Satie to Tippett. The final brief fantasia derives from a reworking of an equally brief phrase from The Nightingale and the Rose. There is no link between the individual pieces other than by virtue of their being short (all under three minutes) and written for the piano; and there is no intention to regard them as constituting in any way a coherent whole.


1                     Romance

2                     Waltz

3                     Fantasia on Waly Waly

4                     Habañera

5                     Saint Michael

6                     Reverie

7                     The Iceberg

8                     Fantasia in Two Parts






   The Three romances for harp date from widely differing periods. The first movement was written in the late 1990s as an imitation-minimalist piece, and the third is a study in counterpoint from the same period. The second movement, however, is much earlier and began as an independent piece for solo Celtic harp written  in  the  late  1970s.  It  was  then  adapted  for use in the children’s opera The Children of Lyr, and the main  theme  found  its  way  into  the  central  section of the Wedding March from The Fall of Gondolin.   

   In the current version the original score is followed by a series of variations which in their turn are derived from the later workings of the theme in The Children of Lyr.