• John Harbison
  • Amazing Grace (1972)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)

Programme Note

Composer Note:

It was in 1971 that my friend Phil West asked me to write him a solo oboe piece. On an earlier occasion he had sung me his southern rural version of "Amazing Grace," with whumping grace note ornamentations that I guessed were part of the camp-meeting tradition that had gathered around the song.

I hadn't heard the song so much at the time but I somehow had learned it was a Scottish seafaring ballad; this I associated with bag-piping. (The tune had not yet become the all-occasion standard it is today.)

My variations are both de-constructive and constructive. The tune can be followed, but with the help of a daring and brilliant performer.

ā€” John Harbison