Khachaturian Adagio from “Spartacus”

Some will recognise the ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia’ as the theme tune for the long-running 1970s TV series, The Onedin Line, younger listeners perhaps for its appearance in the animated film Ice Age: The Meltdown. However, it was originally written as part of a ballet, Spartacus, by the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian in 1954. … Read more

Parry Jerusalem

This famous hymn was originally written in 1804 by William Blake as part of a longer poem called Milton: A poem in two books and it was set to music by Hubert Parry in 1916 in an attempt to lift spirits during the war, proving an instant success. The music was commissioned by the poet … Read more

Khachaturian Adagio from “Spartacus”

Some will recognise the ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia’ as the theme tune for the long-running 1970s TV series, The Onedin Line, younger listeners perhaps for its appearance in the animated film Ice Age: The Meltdown. However, it was originally written as part of a ballet, Spartacus, by the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian in 1954. … Read more

Debussy: Berceuse Heroique

Claude Debussy was asked to write something for King Albert’s Book which was a collection of music sponsored by The Telegraph and put together by Hall Caine, and was designed to send “a tribute of admiration to Belgium on the heroic and ever-memorable share she has taken in the war”. He was in good company … Read more

Smith Alan: “Ritornello”

This commission to mark the BHSO’s 30th anniversary marks a new venture for Alan Smith, most of whose previous output has been choral rather than instrumental works. Smith’s Ritornello is notable for its angular rhythms and constantly changing metre, the time signature changing in every bar for the first twenty bars. Unlike a symphony, in … Read more

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No 2

The Hungarian-born composer and pianist Franz Liszt was strongly influenced by the music heard in his youth, particularly Hungarian folk music, with its unique gypsy scale, rhythmic spontaneity and direct, seductive expression. These elements would eventually play a significant role in Liszt’s compositions. Although this prolific composer’s works are highly varied in style, a relatively … Read more

Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn

1   Chorale St. Antoni: Andante 2   Variation I : Poco più animato 3   Variation II : Più vivace 4   Variation III : Con moto 5   Variation IV : Andante con moto 6   Variation V : Vivace 7   Variation VI : Vivace 8   Variation VII : Grazioso 9   Variation VIII : Presto non troppo 10  Finale: … Read more

Delius: Summer night on the river

Summer Night on the River is the second of the Two Pieces for Small Orchestra. Delius had moved to a villa in the French village of Grez, which backed onto the river Loing, and this tone poem was the result of many contemplative hours spent there. In contrast to the melodic On Hearing the First Cuckoo … Read more

Barber: Adagio for Strings

Samuel Barber was something of a child prodigy. He was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania on the 9th March 1910 and was already composing by the age of 7. Having learnt piano, organ and voice he gained a place at the Curtis Institute of Music at just 14. By his late teens he was composing … Read more

Sibelius: Finlandia

Sibelius’ best works are to be found in his seven symphonies and symphonic poems. However, he is probably most renowned today for his tone poem Finlandia which he composed in 1899. At this time the Grand Duchy of Finland was struggling for independence from the Russian Empire. Sibelius was invited to write music for a … Read more