Nocturne No 1 (for piano solo)


26th June 2016 | A restless night in June 2016

What is it?

My Nocturne No 1 is a piano solo lasting just under ten minutes. It is my most uncompromising composition, making no concessions whatsoever to other people’s tastes in music, so I was surprised - to say the least - when friends described it as beautiful. Its modality is predominantly octatonic and nonatonic, approximating to what Olivier Messiaen referred to as his second and third modes of limited transposition. Of intermediate technical difficulty, it is probably Grade 7 in ARSM terms.


This video gives you a scroll-through of the sheet music, with a live recording made on 11th March 2023. If you'd like your own performance featured here, please let me know the details.


Brexit 1

The composer

I have devoted a good deal of my career to promoting international co-operation. More specifically I worked for thirty years on European Union programmes with an emphasis on bringing countries closer together or into the EU. I recognise that the EU’s governance mechanisms are far from perfect, but I believe in peace and stability. More to the point, I’m prepared to work for it rather than expecting it to be spoon-fed to me. On 23rd June 2016 the United Kingdom held a referendum in which people were asked a ridiculously naïve question: should the UK stay in the EU or leave? People like me who work with the EU knew that the issue is vastly more complex than that. I tried to advise people. I've worked on international free trade agreements and I know what I’m talking about, but because certain of the UK’s politicians did not want to hear the message, they told the citizens of the country that they shouldn’t listen to experts. So a majority of the people who turned out to vote expressed a desire to leave the EU.

I am now retired from that work but even so, I still feel an intense sense of cold anger at this decision. The UK is sliding ever further away from the principles of decency and humanity upon which I have built my life and career. That makes me angrier still. Nocturne is an expression of that. Nothing more needs to be said.

Brexit 2

The composer in 'trade expert' mode, delivering a
public lecture on the realities of EU trade agreements.

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