London Rags

Two trumpets, horn, tenor trombone & tuba (1986)

London Rags is largely based on two patriotic tunes: ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Rule, Britannia’. These are used in blues and ragtime transformations and the melodies are not complete until they appear in the form of a classical rag in G major at the end. So London Rags can be regarded as a set of variations ending with its themes. This classical rag also exists as a piano piece called Patriotic Rag, published in Rags, Blues and Parodies (Novello), and has been recorded by the composer (Albany TROY369). Written during the miners' strike in Thatcher's Britain, the full brass version, London Rags, can be viewed as a series of confrontations between the players, with the tuba having the central, moderating role. This part was originally written for John Fletcher and the whole piece was planned around his very special gifts - but sadly he did not live to play it. The tuba's own modal melody is constantly interrupted and the players seem able to agree only on blues versions of our two national themes. But finally the ending is good-humoured and every player has had the opportunity to deliver solos with great panache.

Introduction (Themes and Interruptions)
Rag I (Trombone solo)
Rag II (Horn solo)
Blues I (Rule, Britannia)
Rag III (Trumpet 2 solo)
Blues II (God Save the Queen)
Rag IV (Tuba solo)
Rag V (Themes: Patriotic Rag)

London Rags was commissioned by London Brass (successor to the pioneering Philip Jones Brass Ensemble) at the suggestion of Philip Jones himself with funds from the Arts Council of Great Britain. The first performance was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, on 16 December 1986 and the first broadcast took place as part of a documentary on Peter Dickinson in Melvyn Bragg's South Bank Show on Channel 4 TV on 13 March 1988 with Rod Franks and Nigel Gomm (trumpets), Frank Lloyd (horn), Roger Harvey (trombone) and Oren Marshall (tuba).

© 2008-24 Estate of Peter Dickinson