Click here to purchase the performance material from the Australian Music Centre Difficulty: Advanced; Dedicated to John Gregory Knowles; Commissioned by John Gregory Knowles with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board.
This light-hearted (though highly virtuosic) piece consists of two radiant dances framing an introspective, recitative-like interlude. The musical idiom is that of Edwards’ Piano Concerto, composed in the same year, which conservative critics found so threatening in the 1980s. In such pieces as these it was his intention to reintroduce levity, joy and exuberance into ’serious’ music, which at the time seemed in danger of ossification.
The marimba writing is influenced by a transcription he made of music for African harp in a reconstruction of a Madagascan folk song. This folk song became part of his instrumental sextet Laikan, composed in 1979 for the British ensemble The Fires of London and its conductor, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, with whom Edwards studied in the 1960s and early 70s. The marimba part was first performed by Greg Knowles, to whom Marimba Dances is dedicated.
Marimba Dances was first performed by Michael Askill at a concert in the Wollongong City Art Gallery in 1983. Today it is one of Ross Edwards’ most widely performed and recorded works throughout the world.