Vagrant Muse songcycle page


Early Works

“A Modern Opera” (1955)
First attempt at an opera. A young man tries to leave the Chicago Mafia, but the Boss of his “family” reacts by abducting his girlfriend and holding her prisoner. When he succeeds in freeing her from captivity it triggers the fall of the Boss’s empire.

“The Orphan’s Song” setting of Sidney Dobell
“Go and Catch a Falling Star” setting of John Donne
“The Dong” setting of Edward Lear

Piano pieces (1962)

Music for film “The Judgment of Albion”

“The Vagrant Muse”

Song Cycle for Tenor, Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, also arranged for Tenor and Piano, setting 13 lyric poems by John Clare (1793-1864)

John Clare suffered a severe mental breakdown after the trauma of reading in a newspaper that his first love, Mary Joyce, had been killed in a fire at her farm. These poems were drawn from a group of over forty songs, written while recovering in a mental asylum. The “songs”, as he called them, helped him come to terms with the loss, although in many of them he still refuses to believe that she has died. They chart his spiritual journey at that time, and demonstrate the internal courage he had to find in order to survive his madness and imprisonment. Ultimately the soul remains triumphant.

“Other Poems by John Clare”

Settings for voice and piano of “Remembrances”, “Bonny Ann”, “To Julia”, “Susan, the Miller’s Daughter”.

“The World Tree”

Symphonic movement for full orchestra. First movement of a proposed symphony entitled “Symphony of Changes”. The third movement “Deliverance” is also complete, but only in piano score.

“The Gothic Game” (Musical)

Musical Comedy to a libretto (book and lyrics) written by the composer. A wedding party inadvertently hires the mad caterers from hell, and find themselves transported to a Gothic castle, peopled by ghosts, vampires and other devilish beings, where they are invited to give free rein to all their hidden resentments, and play a game of elimination to the death. Although they mostly take to the mayhem with great abandon, the last two survivors fall in love, and refuse to kill each other, and the game has to be called off. The guests are transported back to the wedding, and to the precise moment when they left it, but they now know so much more about each other. The bridegroom happily joins his former wife in the realm of the dead and the wedding has to be abandoned. The bride goes off with the devil, and all the other guests find themselves with new partners.

“Sonata for Violin and Piano”

Sonata in three movements, “Andante - Adagio - Allegro”. The second movement utilises a ‘Russian’ theme, written as incidental music to the play, “The Deluge”

“The Snow Spider”

Opera Libretto

This is based on the story of an Inuit legend, recorded by Knud Rasmussen. A ghost is forced to leave her resting place in the ice-floes to tell her tale of impossible human relationships, of her love for a poor disembodied head and for the powerful but jealous hunter who lives in the moon, and finally her discovery of the harmony and balance necessary for survival in the three worlds of earth, sea and sky.

Vagrant Muse Extracts [mp3]

Sighing For Retirement

The Soul's Return

The Spring May Forget


The Gothic Game [mp3]

Cooking Granny

Darkness Before The Dawn

The Devil Has... Best Tunes

The Gothic Game