piano music

Click here for the main Listening page *

The remainder of this page is an archive of piano music dating from a few years ago.  Some of these recordings are on the main listening page, others can only be found here.


Here’s a minute or so from a big piano piece I wrote a few years ago called The Will of the Tones.

It’s a strange title, but it does make sense. I’m fascinated by the German Romantic notion of music as some kind of living organism, animated by the inexorable drive or ‘will’ of the sounds which make it up (der Tonwille). It’s like the way that genes blindly but powerfully shape the development of the bodies of which they are part. In this extract, a little way into the piece, the strong, bright ringing sounds of the opening are just beginning to multiply and evolve into something with a life and an energy all its own. The piece was written for Matthew Schellhorn, who gave the première in St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, in November 2004, and it’s Matthew playing on this recording.

See review in The Times, and programme notes

If you’re interested to hear the complete piece, click here, and if you’d like to be sent a pdf of the score, contact me.


In 2009, as part of a project celebrating the anniversary year of Haydn, I was asked by Matthew Schellhorn to write a short piece based on the notes of his name (which come out as B-A-D-D-G).  I love Haydn’s wry sense of humour; my homage was this encore-piece: Butterfly

And for a complete contrast, here’s the opening of a piano piece I wrote some time ago, called Strangers on a shore.

It was the first music I wrote after moving into a Scottish fishing village. Our house was right by the sea, which I could hear while I was composing. It’s rather simpler and gentler than the two pieces posted above. I hope you enjoy at least one of the pieces posted here! (Again, you can read the programme notes; or to leave a comment or request a recording or a score, go to Comments.)

Click here: strangers.


Music for strings and hammers

This is the opening of a piece for six pianos which I wrote for a first performance in Leeds Corn Exchange, an extraordinary building encasing a large oval-shaped space on three levels, linked by curving staircases. This was for a FUSELeeds/spnm concert curated by Rolf Hind, who had the great idea of filling this wonderful space with the sound of lots of pianos. I thought of my music working on different layers like the architecture it was written for, and in this opening section you can hear slow chords from the two grand pianos which form a kind of deep, underground level, while gradually much livelier, more jazzy conversation gets going between two uprights and later a honky-tonk. (Later still there’s also a celesta whose ‘floating’ music creates another level again; but for that you need to hear the whole piece!). It’s called Music for Strings and Hammers, performed here by Rolf Hind, Sarah Nichols, Noriko Ogawa, Andrew Ball, Richard Casey and Daniel Becker.  Later I added a slow prelude for four pianos called A sense of touch; you can hear this on the homepage.

music for strings & hammers

Music by Jeremy Thurlow.

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