Spring Music


by Nicholas Maw

Full Orchestra
2(II=picc).2.2.2 – 4331 – timp – harp – strings

Commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Festival

First Performance
15.10.82, Norwich: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Norman Del Mar

Score 0-571-50815-4 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Nicholas Maw Spring Music This work was originally written to a commission from the Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Festival, where it was performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Norman Del Mar on October 15 1982. Five months later I substantially revised and shortened it, and this new version was first played by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Groves at the annual conference of the Incorporated Society of Musicians at Harrogate in April 1984. The work takes its cue from the well-known line of Dylan Thomas quoted at the head of the score that seems to sum up the energy and beauty of spring: “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower …” I have tried to find an equivalent musical metaphor for this pungent and evocative line. There is also another impulse behind the work: a response to numerous requests from conductors, orchestra managers and publishers for a piece that was neither too long nor too difficult, written for a conventional orchestra (principally to meet the demands of touring), and something that might provide a good opening item for a concert. I resisted these requests for years, but eventually changed my mind; I decided it might after all be an interesting challenge to try and write a work that took into account these purely practical considerations. This accounts for the work’s comparative brevity (13 ½ minutes) and straightforward instrumentation: double wind, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, harp and strings. The work is cast in a simple A-B-A form. Most of the first section is developed from the toccata of repeated notes heard at the beginning, and comes to a close with broad swaying tune announced by the cellos. The slower middle section is built around a long phrase for unaccompanied violins that leads up to a passionate outburst from the whole orchestra. The third section transforms and adds to the material of the first part, eventually returning to the exuberant fanfares heard at the beginning. A quiet reminiscence of the middle section is followed by a quick close. Nicholas Maw

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