To the memory of Sir Steven Runciman

  • 8 min

Programme Note

Dove, Star-Folded was written at Christmas, 2000, in memory of the recently deceased Sir Steven Runciman, who had been a friend for more than thirty years. It was he who owned the small automatic organ which had belonged to King George III, with which the King, in his madness, had tried to teach caged finches to sing: this was central to the inspiration and conception of my Eight Songs for a Mad King in 1969.

The new string trio is as far from the frenzied world of that composition as it is possible to travel – it is a contemplative work, based on a Greek Byzantine hymn, in recognition of Sir Steven’s researches into Byzantine history. It is a short series of transformations of the opening phrase, with a tangential flow of thought which I would like to think catches the essence of Steven’s luminous thought processes and conversation. The end is calm and wrapt, reflecting the title’s inwardness; I borrowed this title from the Orcadian poet, George Mackay Brown.