• Peter Dickinson
  • Rags, Blues & Parodies (1986)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • Piano
  • 24 min

Programme Note

Quartet Rag (1976)
This rag was put together as the basis of my String Quartet No.2, commissioned by the Alberni Quartet and first performed by them at Harlow, Essex, on January 30, 1977. The Quartet requires tape-playback or off-stage pianist and has been recorded by the Kreutzer Quartet. Whilst the string players perform the rag slowly, like an adagio, the piano part puts it together snippets at a time. As is sometimes the case with rags the Quartet Rag was built from pieces written at different times. The first two strains come from a destroyed student piece called Capriccio; the C strain is from the scherzo of Seven Diversions (1956) written for a May Week concert at Queens' College, Cambridge, and the D strain is from the last of the Juilliard Dances (1959) written for a ballet performed when I was a graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music, New York.

Three Satie Transformations (1970)
These three paraphrases are based on Erik Satie's Gnossiennes (1890), much as he reworked Clementi in the Sonatine Bureaucratique and Irving Berlin in the ragtime from Parade.
They were made for my orchestral work Satie Transformations, commissioned by the Feeney Trust for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and first performed in the opening concert of the Cheltenham Festival, July 3, 1970, by that orchestra under Meredith Davies, and later recorded by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Clark Rundell on Heritage HTGCD 211. In the orchestral piece the first Gnossienne becomes a trumpet solo; the second a blues shared between clarinet and cor anglais; and the third a big-band number.

Four Blues (1973)
These Blues were written as part of Hymns, Blues and Improvisations for string quartet, piano and tape-playback, commissioned by Lancaster University in 1973, a work which is now withdrawn, although I reworked it for my American Trio, commissioned by the Verdehr Trio (violin, clarinet and piano), who have played it all over the world and recorded it on Cristal CD744. Each of the Blues is based on a hymn-tune, but too remotely for it to be traced, and three of the same tunes are the basis of Hymn-Tune Rag.

Concerto Rag (1980)
This rag was written for my Piano Concerto (1979 - 84), recorded on HTGCD 276, and even appears during the course of that piece played on an upright within the orchestra. Each of its three strains is a diatonic version of one of the Concerto's three main themes.

Blue Rose (1979)
I made two versions of To a Wild Rose (Woodland Sketches, Op.51, No.1, 1896) by the American composer Edward MacDowell (1860 -1908) – a rag and a blues. When Jennifer Bate commissioned an organ piece I decided to base it on these two versions.
The Blue Rose Variations received their first performance on April 2, 1986, in her recital at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City.

Wild Rose Rag (1985)
Rags have often been made from existing music. In this case MacDowell's salon classic provides the first two strains and the trio is based on Blue Rose.

Hymn-Tune Rag (1985)
I wrote the Hymn-Tune Rag when I decided to use three of the four Blues for my American Trio (1985) for violin, clarinet and piano, commissioned by Michigan State University for the Verdehr Trio, who gave the first performance at East Lansing on 14 July 1985. The style of the rag is closely modelled on that of the blind white American player and composer Charles Hunter (1876 -1906). The strains relate to the Blues as follows:
- Rag strain A = Blues No.4 (Hymn-tune invented for the 1973 chamber work)
- Rag strain B = Blues No.1
- Rag strain C (trio) = Blues No.2

Patriotic Rag (1986)
This rag was written in connection with London Rags for brass quintet, commissioned by London Brass.

The first solo performances of Concerto Rag, Wild Rose Rag, Hymn-Tune Rag, Blue Rose, and Blues Nos. 1 and 2 were in a Radio 2 broadcast in the series At the Piano (producer Tim MacDonald) which went out on July 14, 1985, played by the composer. The first public performances of all the rags and blues in this collection - except the Satie Transformations and Patriotic Rag - were at the British Music Information Centre, 6 December 6 1985.