Click on one of the following titles for more information about Samuel's works,
including instrumentation, programme notes, reviews, etc.
Download full Works List HERE - (Microsoft Excel Document)


Wind Ensemble

Royal Engineers Suite Wind Band

Royal Engineers Suite
(Written in 2007)
Four movement suite for wind band.
Dedication:
To Captain Bruce Miller.
Commissioned:
by the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
Instrumentation:
Pic (fl2) / fl / ob / 3clt / bassclt / bsn / AATsax / 3hrn / 3trpt / 3trb / eup / tuba / 3timp / perc(2).
[Perc - glock / xylo / t dr / w.blk / s dr / t bells / tamb / tam-tam / c, cym / s.cym]
Timing:
c.18mins
Performances:
  • 18/19 December 2007, Royal Dockyard Church, Chatham - Royal Engineers Band.
  • 8 June 2008, Newcastle - Royal Engineers Band.
  • 10 June 2008, Minley - Royal Engineers Band.
  • 9 July 2008, Buckingham Palace - Royal Engineers Band.
  • 11-13 July 2008, The Kent County Show - Royal Engineers Band.
Programme notes:
First movement: Fanfare Prelude
Second movement: March
Third movement: Largo
Fourth movement: Presto

The Royal Engineers Suite was written in about five weeks in the summer of 2007. It was commissioned by the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the score is dedicated to their conductor, Captain Bruce Miller.

The Suite was written with the intention of providing a tuneful and exciting work that the band could play either as a whole suite or in parts, with each movement standing alone.

The first movement is entitled Fanfare Prelude. It contrasts two ideas - a fanfare-like burst of notes and a smoother almost plainchant-like theme. This is presented three times - first in the brass, secondly with a gentler mood in the woodwinds and then gloriously by the whole band.

The second movement is a March. It starts with a cheeky, catchy tune in the clarinets. This is then played by the whole band (listen out for the accompaniment tripping over itself!) and then by brass in full "hunting" mode. There is a contrasting section, with a smooth tune played by euphoniums followed by flutes and saxophone, before the main march returns. After the full band version of the tune this time around, it plunges into a short coda.

The third movement is marked Largo (broadly), and is the most substantial movement of the four. It contrasts two main ideas - a static, slow tune at the beginning (piccolo), and a more expressive, flowing tune afterwards (clarinet). These tunes are repeated and developed, working up to a big emotional climax. As this dies away, there is a short and rather mysterious coda where a reflective solo clarinet plays over long-held chords and a tolling bell.

The last movement is marked Presto (very fast), and is a headlong, exciting gallop with barely time to draw breath. The main tune at the beginning is put through various developments, but can always be heard through the first couple of notes, which are easily recognised. There is a central section where the different brass instruments come in one by one with a big tune. This quietens down but before long we are back in the hurly-burly and, after a very brief moment when the big tune from the middle is remembered, the work races to the finish line.

© Samuel Becker 2007

St Piran's March Wind Band

St Piran's March
(Written in 2002)
March for Concert Band.
Dedication:
To Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of Her Golden Jubilee Year.
Commissioned:
by the City of Truro Wind Orchestra for the West County Wind Band Jubilee Concert.
Instrumentation:
pic / 2fl / ob / Ebclt / 3clt / bassclt / bsn / AATBsax / 2hrn / 3trpt / 3trb / eup / tuba / 3timp / perc(3).
[Perc - glock / xylo / s.dr / tamb / trgle / w.blk / s.cym / tam-tam]
Timing:
c.6min 20sec.
Programme notes:
When I was asked to write a short march for the West of England Wind Band Jubilee Concert in 2002, the year of Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, I wanted to make the work particular to the Cornish bands that would premiere the work. I decided to base the march around St. Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall.

At first, I thought that I would try to describe in music the story of St. Piran and the various legends surrounding him. It became clear when I started composing the piece that I could not do anything like justice to these stories, while being constrained within the form of a short march. So, the work became much simpler and not directly based around the St Piran legends. However, I hope that you can still catch glimpses of my original plan in the way the march starts at a distance (as if we can see St Piran slowly making his way over the sand dunes in the way that is still celebrated today on St Piran's Day) and the slightly "church-like" choral section in the middle of the piece.

The piece has another element of Cornwall deep in it's very musical structure. The main tune of the march was based on certain musical figures from the Cornish National song "Trelawny." Although "Trelawny" is not actually quoted, I like to think that its fingerprints are all over my tune. I also wanted my tune to remind the listener of other folk tunes, many of them Cornish.
Performances:
  • November 2002: Truro Wind Orchestra with the addition of members from H.M.S. Seahawk Volunteer Band, Restormel Concert Band and West Cornwall Concert Band at the Jubilee concert, conductor Colin Touchin.
  • National Concert Band Festival Regional Heats; 2003: Truro Wind Orchestra, conductor John Greaves.
Reviews:
"Samuel Becker's 'St Piran's March' received its first performance. From an atmospheric opening on flutes and percussion, via a jaunty, almost sea-shanty and reflective passages for flutes and clarinets to a rousing conclusion, the piece and its composer were loudly applauded."
Judith Whitehouse, local newspaper review.

The Fall of Lucifer Wind Band

The Fall of Lucifer
(Written in 2001)
One movement work for large wind band.
Dedication:
To all members, past and present, of the Northampton Music School.
Commissioned:
by Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, with funds from East Midlands Arts.
Instrumentation:
2pic / 3fl* / 2ob / cor / Ebclt / 3clt* / bassclt / 2bsn / Cbsn / AATBsax / 4hrn / 4trpt / 4trb / eup* / tuba* / db / 4timp / perc(4).
[*these parts all divide]
[Perc - glock / xylo / crotales / vib / t.bell / 3s.dr / t.dr / b.dr / tamb / 2trgle / 3anvil / whip / claves / 2w.blk / 2c.cym / 3s.cym / tam-tam]
Timing:
c. 18 mins.
Programme notes:
The Fall of Lucifer is inspired by the account of the archangel's downfall in Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. The piece is divided into three sections, which run without break.

The Morning Star. The title of this section is the literal meaning of the name Lucifer and attempts to portray the archangel in all his power and glory, with darker undercurrents perhaps hinting at what is to come. The music starts with a three-note motif, which could symbolise Lucifer and dominates the entire piece.

The Battle. This section attempts to portray the three-day battle in heaven from Lucifer's point of view. As with any battle, there is the rallying of troops and moments of violence and horror. Halfway through this section, a huge march builds up - but is cut off and the music dies away, only to grow again suddenly at the point that Lucifer realises his fate and is thrown from heaven into the depths of hell.

Flames of Darkness. This section (the title being a direct quote from Milton) is a long, gradual build up to a terrifying conclusion, using ideas already encountered in the piece. At first, in a long contrabassoon solo, one can imagine Lucifer perhaps warily exploring his new surroundings. However, the music gradually gains in power and ends with the opening three-note motive being thundered out with utmost aggression.
Performances:
  • March 2001: Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, conductor Peter Smalley.
  • December 2001: Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Orchestra, conductor Guy Woolfenden.
Reviews:
"It is scored for the full forces of the modern wind band, with prominent roles for percussion, and an extended solo at the start of Part III for contrabassoon Ð ably taken by Steven Daverson. Becker, a one time pupil of Diana Burrell and Edward Gregson, knows how to handle his huge forces, and is not afraid of the big gesture.
Part One: The Morning Star starts confidently and impressively with a descending three-note motif E,E flat, C which is a resource base for the whole piece, and defines Lucifer in his pomp, dark, austere and dangerous. The music is continuous and Part Two: The Battle, follows without a break.
This section deals with the power struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, and the inevitable conclusion, the expulsion from paradise of the eponymous anti-hero and his followers. The sonic possibilities of such a fall from grace are, literally, God's gift to a talented composer, and Becker delivers the goods to his players and audience, and the bads to everlasting damnation.
Part Three: Flames of Darkness starts quietly, with the aforementioned contrabassoon solo, which seems to be examining Lucifer in detail from its deep perspective and slightly unnerving sonority. The music thereafter develops in complexity, power and ambition and concludes with a trenchant coda reworking the three-note motif which began the piece.
Congratulations to all concerned with the commissioning, preparation and the performance of The Fall of Lucifer, and, of course, to Samuel Becker for producing a serious, abrasive and confidently achieved work which I am sure will have a further life."
Guy Woolfenden, reviewing the premiere for Winds magazine.

Lamentations of Achilles Wind Band

Lamentations of Achilles
(Written in 1999)
One movement work for wind band.
Commissioned:
by Mid-Sussex Youth Concert Band.
Instrumentation:
2fl / ob / Ebclt / 3clt / bassclt / bsn / AATBsax / 2hrn / 3trpt / 2trb / eup / tuba / 3timp / perc(4).
[Perc - 2s.dr / t.dr / b.dr / tamb / trgle / c.cym / 2s.cym]
Timing:
c.7 mins.
Programme notes:
This piece is based on an episode in Homer's Iliad. Achilles, the invincible Greek hero, has stopped fighting the Trojans because of an argument with the Greek commander. When it looks like the Trojans will over run the Greek ships, Achilles is persuaded to let his dearest friend Patroclus go out to fight, dressed in his armour. At first, the Trojans are fooled and flee in terror. Eventually, however, Patroclus is killed by Hector; the Trojan hero and son of King Priam. This devastates Achilles. At first he is prostrate with grief but his anger grows and he goes to fight: killing Hector and mutilating his body, he also turns the war to the Greek advantage. The piece charts the various aspects of Achilles' grief: bleakness, emptiness and sorrow - growing more impassioned and finally ending with music redolent of anger and violence.
Performances:
  • July 1999: Mid-Sussex Youth concert Band, conductor Neil Franks.
Many other performances following publication, including:
  • June 2000: Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, conductor Peter Smalley.
  • April 2001: Sefton Youth Wind Orchestra, conductor Geoffrey Reed.
  • February 2002: West of England Wind Orchestra, conductor John Greaves.
Published by:
Bandleader Publications

The Dances of Puck Wind Band

The Dances of Puck
(Written in 1997)
One movement work for wind band
Commissioned:
By Kent Youth Symphonic Band, Gravesham Music Centre, Maidstone Youth Music Society and Dartford Music Centre; with the support of the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles.
Instrumentation:
pic / 2fl / ob / 3clt / bassclt / bsn / AATsax / 2hrn / 3trpt / 3trb / eup / tuba / 2timp / perc(2).
Plus optional parts for ob2, bsn2 and b.sax.
[Pec - s.dr / t.dr / b.dr / tamb / trgle / w.blk / cast / s.cym]
Timing:
c.9 mins.
Programme notes:
The Dances of Puck attempts to show the general character of "that shrewd and knavish sprite" from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream rather than a portrayal of any particular adventures of that "merry wanderer of the night" (see Act II, scene I). No delicate music here Ð Puck is much more rough-hewn than Titania's band of fairies! The mischievous nature of the music offers constant surprises and keeps all members of the band occupied, while plentiful solos for all instruments, give key players a chance to shine.
Performances:
  • Premiered in December 1998; many performances following from commissioning groups and others.
Published by:
Bandleader Publications

Slava Brass / Percussion

Slava
(Written in 1996)
Music for brass and percussion - One movement work for brass ensemble
Dedication:
To Noelle Mann.
Instrumentation:
7tpr / 2hrn / 3trb / tuba / perc(5).
[Perc - 2glock / t.bell / antique cym / trgle / s.cym / gong]
Timing: c.7 mins.
Programme notes:
This piece has been heavily influenced by my experience of Russian music. Although I did not want to write a pastiche Russian piece and there are no actual quotations, the whole is imbibed with the sounds of Russian music. There are three main themes. Firstly, a declamatory passage for trumpets, then a more lyrical section followed by trombones with a more chordal texture. The possibilities inherent in the juxtaposition of these three ideas are developed in the rest of the piece, providing moments of conflict and exhilaration before the final quiet coda. Slava means Glory in Church Slavonic.
Performances:
  • January 1996: Goldsmiths Brass Ensemble, conductor Samuel Becker.
  • February 1996: Goldsmiths Brass Ensemble, conductor Leslie Lake

Overture Burlesque Wind Band

Overture Burlesque
(Written in 1995)
Overture for wind band.
Instrumentation:
pic / 2fl / ob / 2clt / bassclt / bsn / ATBsax / 2hrn / 3trpt / 2trb / eup / tuba / 3timp / perc(2).
[Perc - s.drum/ b.dr/ trgle/w.blk/c.cym/s.cym]
Timing:
c.5 mins.
Programme notes:
After a short introduction, featuring loud, tutti chords alternating with fugato woodwind passages, the first main theme is announced by the alto saxophone Ð a slow, legato melody in 12/8 over a quick staccato accompaniment. Soon 12/8 gives way to a faster and more hectic 4/4 with a new, cheeky theme in the trumpet. After this is repeated in augmentation and with fuller scoring, we come to a slow chorale for trumpet, two horns and trombone. The still centre of the work, this is the only appearance of this chorale. A new, lilting 6/8 theme is announced by solo bassoon. Almost na•ve in its nursery-like simplicity, it goes through a few variations before we arrive at a reprise of the opening and repeat of the alto saxophone theme. This time the shift to 4/4 is slightly different and we are led to a passage in which the trumpet theme (in augumentation) and the 6/8 theme are heard together over swirling woodwind semiquavers. As this dies away, a solo piccolo seems to want to let the piece fizzle away into silence, but five bars of furious Presto finish the piece in appropriate style. I hope the piece will impart a sense of rhythmic energy and fun, and also implying, with the slightly absurd "chugging" accompaniments, a feeling of slapstick ridiculousness.
Performances:
  • March 1995: Goldsmiths College Wind Ensemble, conductor Samuel Becker.

Contemplations of Orion Wind Band

Contemplations of Orion
(Written in 1994)
One movement work for large wind orchestra.
Dedication:
To John Greaves.
Commissioned:
By Cambridge University Music Society.
Instrumentation:
2pic / 2fl* / 2ob / cor / Ebclt / 3Bbclt* / 2bassclt / 2bsn / Cbsn / SATBsax / 4hrn / 6trpt / 4trb / eup / tuba* / db / pfe / 4timp / perc(5).
[*these parts all divide]
[Perc - 2glock / 2xylo / vib / t.bells / 2sdr / tdr / 2bdr / 3tomtom / tamb / trgle / 3t.blks / claves / c.cym / 2s.cym / gong]
Timing:
c.15 mins.
Programme notes:
Contemplations of Orion is based on the dual ideas of the constellation in the night sky and its associated Greek myths. Various legends about this basically amiable, if rather lustful, Greek hunter-giant have provided me with inspiration, but the piece is definitely not meant to be programmatic. The myths, as well as the more ambiguous motifs of the night sky and stars, act as a spring-board for ideas which are developed from a musical rather than extra-musical standpoint. Hence the title, "Contemplations of Orion" - implying, I hope, a free working of ideas over and above the basic concept.
Performances:
  • June 1994 - Cambridge Music Society Wind Orchestra, conductor Benjamin Greenaway.
  • September 1996 - National University Honours Band, conductor Colin Touchin.
  • November 1997 - Harrow Young Musicians Symphonic Winds, conductor Adrian Brown.
  • 20 May 2008, Cambridge - Zephyr Ensemble
Reviews:
"I especially enjoyed Contemplations of Orion by the young composer Samuel Becker."
John Davie, Winds magazine.

Orchestral

Regent of the Sun Violin / Orchestra

Regent of the Sun
(Written in 1998)
[Violin Concerto] - Four movement concerto for violin and large orchestra.
Dedication:
For Dominic Jewel.
Commissioned:
by Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra and Harrow Young Musicians.
Instrumentation:
solo violin + pic.2.2.2.bclt.2 / 4.2.3.tba / 4timp.perc(2) / harp / vln1.vln2.vla.vlc.db.
[Perc - s.dr / b.dr / tamb / trgle / claves / t.blk / w.blk / c.cym / s.cym / tam-tam]
Timing:
c. 35 mins.
Programme notes:
The title of this piece comes from a passage in Book III of Milton's Paradise Lost in which a meeting between Satan and Uriel is described. Milton calls Uriel "the sharpest-sighted spirit of all in heaven" and "Regent of the Sun". Uriel (which means "flame of God" or "angel of light") is one of the seven archangels of rabbinical angelology. In Muslim tradition, he is the angel of music, possessing the most melodious voice of all of God's creatures, and is the angel who sounds the last trumpet.

The piece is scored for solo violin and large orchestra. It lasts just over half an hour and is divided into four movements, which can be sketched out as follows -
I. Fast; contrasting rather brittle, quasi-Baroque music with passages of great drama.
II. A bright scherzo; fast and often playful; elements of more serious concerns are banished.
III. Slow; music of great power and passion contrast with moments of intimacy and radiant beauty.
IV. After a slow introduction, a fast movement which drives relentlessly towards a climatic moment and the solo violinist's cadenza; after which an ecstatic coda ends the work in glory.
Performances:
  • March 1999: Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, soloist Dominic Jewel, conductor Adrian Brown.
  • March 1999: Harrow Young Musicians Philharmonic, soloist Dominic Jewel, conductor Adrian Brown.

Jubilate Orchestra

Jubilate
(Written in 1998)
Overture for Orchestra.
Dedication:
To Peter Davies, celebrating his contribution to the orchestra in his 80th birthday year [Also Peter Denny (leader) and Adrian Brown (conductor) twenty years with the orchestra, which was also celebrating it's 120th anniversary]
Commissioned:
by Newbury Symphony Orchestra.
Instrumentation:
pic.2.2.2.2 / 4.3.3.tba / 3timp.perc(3) / vln1.vln2.vla.vlc.db.
[Perc - glock / s.dr / b.dr / tamb / trgle / w.blk / s.cym]
Timing:
c.5 mins.
Programme notes:
The title of this piece has a three-fold meaning, reinforcing the purpose of the celebratory nature of the commission. It refers to the "Jubilate Deo" - the canticle consisting of Psalm 100 "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord" - but also implies the verb "to jubilate" which the Oxford English Dictionary gives as "Exulte, make demonstrations of joy"; and jubilee - and anniversary. The latter being highly appropriate as the piece celebrates Peter Davies" lifelong association with the Newbury Symphony Orchestra as well as Adrian Brown and Peter Denny's twenty years as conductor and leader respectively. All of this in the orchestra's 120th anniversary year!

The piece itself is, I hope, straightforward. An introductory "flourish"; a brass fanfare (both ideas repeated and extended); and a dance-like theme with strong off-beat rhythms. The piece is basically nothing more than these first three elements. Even the middle section, consisting of a quasi-fugue and its development, is based thematically on the opening fanfare.

My hope was that the piece would give orchestras something fun to play and make palpable a sense of celebration.
Performances:
  • December 1998: Newbury Symphony Orchestra, conductor Adrian Brown.
  • June 2000: Northamptonshire Youth Orchestra, conductor Graham Tear.
  • March 2004: Newbury Symphony Orchestra, conductor Adrian Brown.
Reviews:
"Celebratory music had been commissioned from Samuel Becker (b.1973) to mark Peter Davies' contribution to the orchestra. Jubilate began with an exciting fanfare followed by a syncopated dance-like theme, both developing into an interesting fugal section. It was an excellent idea to allow us a second hearing before the interval. Samuel Becker is a name to look out for."
Grisell Davis, Newbury Times.

Vocal/Choral

The Marrog Children's Choir / Piano

The Marrog
(Written in 2006)
Setting of R.C. Scriven poem for children's choir and piano.
Dedication:
to "All my friends at the Emerald Music School."
Commissioned:
Written for the Emerald Choir.
Instrumentation:
Children's choir (varying from unison to four parts) and piano.
Timing:
c. 2 minutes 30 seconds
Performances:
  • 12th November 2006: The Emerald chorus performed this work to much praise from judges at the category Finals of BBC Choir of the Year, held at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
  • The performance was broadcast on Radio 3 show The Choir on 26th November 2006
Programme notes:
To Follow...

The Bells Children's Choir / Piano

The Bells
(Written in 2000)
Setting of Edgar Allen Poe poem for two-part children's choir and piano.
Dedication:
For the Emerald Chorus; music director Clare Caddick
Instrumentation:
two-part treble choir and piano.
Timing:
c. 5 mins.
Performances:
  • November 2000: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick
  • December 2000: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick
  • Purley Festival 2004: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick
  • March 2004: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick
  • April 2004 at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick
  • May 2004, Croydon Music Festival: Emerald Chorus, conductor Clare Caddick

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love Soprano Voice / Flute

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love
(Written in 2000)
Poem by Andrew Marvell. Setting for soprano voice and flute.
Dedication:
Written as a present to celebrate the wedding of John and Emma Cavadino.
Instrumentation:
soprano voice and flute.

Sonnet 116 Baritone Voice / Piano

Sonnet 116
(Written in 2000)
Setting of the Shakespeare Sonnet 116 for baritone voice and piano.
Dedication:
Written to celebrate the Golden Wedding of Geoff and Bill Skinner.
Instrumentation:
baritone voice and piano.
In October 2008 Sonnet 116 was revised. There are now two versions - a slightly revised version which keeps closely to the original, and a more thoroughly re-written version which in particular has changed many of the piano textures. Both versions are approved for performance

The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Soprano Voice / Wind Band

The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower
(Written in 1997)
Setting of Dylan Thomas poem for soprano voice and wind ensemble.
Dedication:
For Emma Caddick
Instrumentation: sop voice + pic / 2fl / 2ob / cor / 2clt / bassclt / bsn / Cbsn / 2hrn / 3trpt / trb / tuba / 3timp / perc(2).
[Perc - crotales / t.bell / s.dr / t.dr / b.dr / tamb / trgle / w.blk / s.cym / tam-tam]
Timing:
c.8 mins.

Deeper Than Heart's Agony SATB Choir / Strings + Flutes

Deeper Than Heart's Agony
(Written in 1995)
Setting of Nietzsche for SATB choir, four flutes and strings.
Dedication:
To Clare Caddick.
Commissioned:
by the Osiris Ensemble, with funds from Sutton Arts Council.
Instrumentation:
SATB choir [+ sop solo], 4fl vln1.vln2.vla.vlc.db.
Timing:
c. 12 mins.
Programme notes:
Deeper Than Heart's Agony was commissioned by the Osiris Ensemble and first performed by them in 1996. It is mostly slow and contemplative, and sets a text by Nietzsche dealing with his theory of eternal recurrance. (Incidentally, this is the same text set by Mahler in his Third Symphony.) This warns man of the depth of grief in the world but contrasts this with the joy that is also eternally present. The scoring was chosen to balance the forces of the small choir Ð the ensemble of four flutes and strings provide an often static backdrop for the vocal group. The choir mainly sing in homophony, emphasizing the essentially non-developmental nature of the text-setting despite certain moments of word-painting.
Performances:
  • May 1996: Osiris Ensemble, conductor Clare Caddick.
  • March 1998: Osiris Ensemble and Bromley Symphony Orchestra, conductor Clare Caddick.
Reviews:
"Samuel Becker's Deeper Than [The] Heart's Agony, a choral and orchestral study of humanity's struggle to find happiness in a world beset by misery. There is an ethereal quality in his work. The ensemble comprises young singers, whose fresh, youthful voices provided a more poignant interpretation of an eloquent if rather melancholy work that might have been generated by older and more worldly-wise performers."
Roy Atterbury, Kentish Times.

Solo/Chamber

Marsyas Flute

Marsyas
(Written in 2009)
Four-Movement Suite for solo flute
Dedication:
To Ruth Stockdale
instrumentation:
Solo flute
Timing:
c. 11 mins.
Programme notes:
Marsyas is a satyr in Greek mythology. He was an expert player on the double-piped reed instrument known as the aulos. He taught himself the instrument after finding it on the ground, where it had been thrown by its inventor the Goddess Athena, after the other gods had laughed at her for her bulging cheeks while playing.

Marsyas challenged Apollo to a contest, with the terms stating that the winner could treat the loser in any way he wanted. The contest was judged by the Muses and, although there are different versions of how this happened, Marsyas naturally lost and was flayed alive by Apollo for his hubris in challenging a god. Apollo nailed Marsyas's skin to a tree and the nymphs, gods and goddesses mourned his death - their tears turning into the river Marsyas.

Marsyas is a four-movement piece for solo flute, with each movement taking a descriptive title exploring an aspect of the myth as follows:
  1. Marsyas
  2. Apollo
  3. Flaying
  4. River

Light in the Dark Piano

Light in the Dark
(Written in 2006)
For Solo Piano
Commissioned:
by the Brighton and Hove Neighbourhood Care Scheme, with the aid of a grant from the PRS Foundation, for the pianist Rachel Fryer
Timing:
c. 10 mins.
Programme notes:
This piece was written for the pianist Rachel Fryer, who I have known and worked with for many years. The piece was created to explore the theme of the concert where it had its premiere, "a light in the dark."

The piece starts off with a quiet, beautiful chant-like theme. This might give you the sense of being in a beautiful church with a choir singing in the background.

After a couple of minutes, this mood is slowly disrupted as a new, more unsettled and disturbing, element comes in very low down on the piano. This takes us into the central section of the piece, which should feel like a sort of storm with different elements fighting against each other and a high sense of drama. It builds up from a quiet beginning to an impressive display of pianistic fury.

As this energy exhausts itself and dies away we can almost see a small glint of light as the opening idea, expressed more joyfully this time, gradually builds up strength and finishes the piece with joy, redemption and majesty.

Rachel Fryer's website is www.rachelfryer.co.uk.
Performances:
  • 11 December 2005: Premiere at the Friends' Meeting House, Brighton, pianist Rachel Fryer.
  • 16th December 2005: pianist Rachel Fryer
  • November 2006: in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA, pianist Deltcho Deltchev
Recordings:
  • A recording was made by Rachel Fryer on the 17th December 2006 at the Jerwood Studios in Glyndebourne.
Reviews:
"...Samuel Becker's excellent, specially commissioned "Light in the Dark" became instantly accessible due to the combination of a brief introduction to the work by the composer and by Rachel's sensitive and explicit playing. One listener fittingly described the work as a journey. The start of the journey opened with a beautiful and haunting carol like theme reminiscent of The Coventry Carol. Soon this tranquillity and ethereal beauty is overlaid and disrupted with new material appearing in the bass register. Tension mounts realised by the skilful use of dissonance and juxtaposition until finally there is a return to the opening idea this time expressed more boldly. Rachel's playing conveyed the journey perfectly. "Light in the Dark" is very orchestral in nature and Rachel's interpretation made it possible for the listener not only to enjoy on first hearing a beautiful new work but to imagine it orchestrally, for example one moment delicate woodwinds and then strident full tutti!"
Paui Keating from Surprise Music, reviewing for "the Latest," a Brighton magazine.

Lullaby for Joseph Solo Instrument / Piano

Lullaby for Joseph
(Written in 2001)
One movement piece for trombone and piano.
Dedication:
Written for the christening of J. N. Greaves, the composer's Godson.
Instrumentation:
Trombone and piano. (The solo part can be played on other instruments.)
Timing:
c. 3 mins.
Performances:
  • April 2003: performed in version for cello and piano, by Vashti Hunter (vlc) and Rachel Fryer (pfe).

Toccata Violin

Toccata
(Written in 2000)
One movement work for solo violin.
Dedication:
For Fiona Brice.
Instrumentation:
solo violin.
Timing:
c. 10 mins.

Sirens Violin / Piano

Sirens
(Written in 1999)
One movement work for violin and piano.
Commissioned:
by Rachel Fryer.
Instrumentation:
violin and piano.
Timing:
c. 5 mins.
Performances:
  • January 2000: Premiere on the QE2, by Sarita Uranovsky (vln) and Rachel Fryer (pfe)
  • November 2006: Norwalk, Ohio, USA, by Hristo Popov (vln) and Deitcho Deltchev (pfe).

Batucada Percussion

Batucada
(Written in 1995)
One movement work for solo percussionist.
Dedication:
For Dominic Murcott.
Instrumentation:
4timp / xylo / glock / kit b.dr / w.blk / 5t.blk / tam-tam / tamb / s.dr / bongos / 2s.cym / 2trgle.
Timing:
c. 7 mins.
Performances:
  • Informal performance in workshop at Goldsmiths College (1995).

Stage/Opera

Carol's Song Treble Voice / Flute

Carol's Song
(Written in 1997)
Setting of song from Willy Russell's play "Our Day Out" for voice and flute.
Commissioned:
Written for a production at Holy Family College, 1997.
Instrumentation:
Treble voice and flute.
Timing:
c. 3 mins.
Performances:
  • Production of the play at Holy Family College, 1997.

The Bridge 6 Voices / 8 Instrumentalists

The Bridge
(Written in 1996)
One Act Chamber Opera; libretto - David Edgar.
Instrumentation:
fl / ob / bassclt / hrn / trpt / harp / vln / db.
Voices:
treble(or sop) / mezzo-sop / ten / bari / 2bass.
Timing:
c. 1 hour.

Arrangements

Prokofiev: Interlude to Le Pas d'Acier Orchestra

Prokofiev: Interlude to Le Pas d'Acier
(Arranged in 2005)
Instrumentation:
Pic.2.2.cor.Ebclt.2.bclt.2.cbsn / 4.4.3.tba / timp.perc(3) / pfe / vln1.vln2.vla.vlc.db
[Perc Ð s.dr/b.dr/cym/tamb]
Timing:
c.5mins.
Programme notes:
Information on the production at Princeton can be found on the following links:
www.sprkfv.net/journal/three10/princeton.html
www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S10/90/91S87/index.xml?section=newsreleases
Performances:
Information coming soon...

Prokofiev: Trapeze Quintet

Prokofiev: Trapeze
(Arranged in 2002)
The orchestration of two "lost" movements from Prokofiev's ballet "Trapeze."
Commissioned:
Prokofiev Archive and Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers.
Instrumentation:
ob / clt / vln / vla / db.
Timing:
entire ballet: c.25mins.
Programme notes:
Trapeze (1924-25)
  1. Moderato, molto ritmato (Overture)
  2. Allegro (Matelote)
  3. Theme and Variations (The Ballerina)
  4. Andante energico
  5. Allegro sostenuto, ma con brio (Dance of the Tumblers)
  6. Adagio pesante
  7. Allegro precipitato, ma non troppo presto
  8. Andantino (Mourning the Ballerina)
Both Trapeze and the Schubert Waltzes for 2 pianos were commissioned by one of Prokofiev's former acquaintances from St. Petersburg, the choreographer Boris Georgevich Romanov (1891-1957). By 1924 Romanov was living in Berlin where he had created a new company, the Russian Romantic Theatre, who aimed to represent what 'was new and wholly dedicated to the propaganda of Russian art.' Prokofiev the modernist was an obvious choice.

No sooner was the ballet scenario sketched by the two artists Prokofiev set to work, composing six movements scored for the unusual combination of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass. From the outset however, Prokofiev had conceived this music as a concert piece, and had it soon published as the Quintet Op. 39. But even though the music was ready, the ballet had to be postponed.

Hampered by the economic collapse of Germany, Romanov was unable to stage the ballet as planned during the 1924-25 season. When rehearsals started in the spring of 1925, Romanov revised the scenario, requesting another two movements from Prokofiev, Overture and Matelote. The complete ballet in eight movements was first performed in Gotha, a small German town near Hanover, on 6 November 1925.

During the following spring the company toured in Italy with a large programme that included Trapze. The tour was a financial disaster and soon after The Russian Romantic Theatre disbanded, its new works following the same destiny: Trapze went into oblivion, never to be performed again. When the Quintet was published, it did not include the ballet's two extra movements and, consequently, the complete score of Trapeze was not preserved.

Meanwhile the piano score of the two movements remained in manuscript form until recently, when they were re-discovered among the holdings of the Serge Prokofiev Archive in London. In tonight's performance of the complete ballet in eight movements, Overture and Matelote are orchestrated by Samuel Becker.
Programme note by Noelle Mann, curator of the Prokofiev Archive.
Performances:
  • January 2003: Concert performance of complete ballet by members of the Royal Northern College of Music, at the Prokofiev Festival in Manchester, conductor Robin Newton.
  • April 2003: The complete ballet was danced for the first time in nearly eighty years by the English National Ballet at the Sadlers Wells theatre, ENB orchestra conducted by Anthony Twiner.
  • It is now being performed by ballet companies around the world. See the Boosey and Hawkes website for more information.
Reviews:
"Late at night, the accomplished students of the Royal Northern College of Music New Ensemble tucked into Trapeze, a ballet score for string and woodwind quintet never heard complete since the mid-1920s: garrulously contrapuntal, nostalgic and spiky, always fascinating."
Geoff Brown, The Times

"Trapeze was commissioned from an emigre Russian ballet company that went bust soon after taking the work on tour. Six of its eight shortish movements, scored for a wacky ensemble of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass, survived; but two more, added at the ballet-master's request, disappeared. Their piano drafts were recently rediscovered by No‘lle Mann, curator of the Prokofiev Archive in London, and have been orchestrated by Samuel Becker. Less bizarre than the other movements, they are equally compelling, and the Royal Northern College of Music's New Ensemble, conducted by Robin Newton, did the whole score and themselves tremendous credit in their post-concert appearance."
David Fanning, The Daily Telegraph
You can get more information on this work by contacting Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers at www.boosey.com or the Serge Prokofiev Association at www.sprkfv.net.
Trapeze is mentioned in this interview with Prokofiev expert, David Nice:
www.prokofiev.org/interviews/nice.html

Prokofiev: Op69No3 Wind Band

Prokofiev: Op69No3
(Arranged in 2002)
March for wind band op.69 no.3
Commissioned:
Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers.
Instrumentation:
fl / 3clt / 2crnt / 2trpt / 2Ebalto / 2Ebhrn / 3Bbten / BbBari / 3trb / 2bass / tamb / s.dr / cym / b.dr.
Timing:
Complete march: c.5mins.
Programme notes:
Marches for military band Op. 69 (1935-1937)
  1. March for the Spartakiade
  2. Marching Song (Lyrical)
  3. March
  4. Cavalry march (Over the Bridge)
Until today, only the first two marches of Op. 69 were available for performance. Prokofiev composed the third march for a competition but never orchestrated it, which might explain the absence of a title.

On the manuscript of the piano score he wrote: 'If the March is too long or the second trio too difficult, cut the trio out'. The suggestion was taken up by V. Shpirko, editor of the publisher Muzyka, who orchestrated part of this work in 1968.

With the trio re-instated in an orchestration by Samuel Becker, tonight's performance will be the world premire of the complete march. When Prokofiev realised that the fourth march, Cavalry March, would not be published either, he incorporated it into another work of the same period, Songs of our Days Op. 76.

The Cavalry March has now been re-united with the other three marches, which makes this performance of Op. 69 the first ever of the work as conceived by Prokofiev in 1937.
Programme note by Noelle Mann, curator of the Prokofiev Archive.
Performances:
  • January 2003: The op.69 marches were first performed complete at the Prokofiev Festival Symposium weekend at the Royal Northern College of Music. Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, conductor Clark Rundell
Click here to go to a Chandos recording of the work.
You can get more information on this work by contacting Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers at www.boosey.com or the Serge Prokofiev Association at www.sprkfv.net.