This work was commissioned by Bath International Music Festival and BBC Radio 3. It was first performed on 30th May 2011 at the Assembly Rooms, Bath, by Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian pipes), Joanna MacGregor (piano) and the Navarra String Quartet.

  • string quartet, pf, Northumbrian Pipes (F Set)
  • 5 min

Programme Note

This short work is a preparatory study for a musical investigation into the Roman emperor Hadrian’s character – responsible for building the most extravagant country villa ever for himself near Rome, and for the famous wall across north England.

I have purposefully played hide-and-seek with the Northumbrian tune upon which all is based – it appears fleetingly in the first bars – and used the three instrumental colours – string quartet, piano and pipes, to express three main aspects of Hadrian’s personality. The sections appear in reverse order of composition, so that the remotest Italianate transformations slowly crystallise into a final, calm English statement.

Peter Maxwell Davies – May 2011