Blue Rose Variations

Organ (1985)

The Blue Rose Variations is one of several works in which I have drawn on ragtime and blues. The organ work is based on two transformations of the popular piano piece ‘To A Wild Rose’ (Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, No. 1, 1896) by the American composer Edward MacDowell (1860-1908). During the course of the Variations, ‘To A Wild Rose’ appears as a blues and also as a classical rag, often as both together.

The sections are:

Theme: a quiet blues.
Variation I: a pedal solo in varied metres based on the blues in fast tempo.
Variation II: the first appearance of the rag as a background to the blues as a 2' pedal solo.
Variation III: a version of Variation I now involving manuals too.
Variation IV: another blues solo against the rag.
Variation V: another version of Variation I with the pedal solo almost entirely transferred to the manuals.
Variation VI: a final confrontation between the blues (full pedal) and the rag, now much decorated.

The first performances of the Blue Rose Variations were given by Jennifer Bate at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, 2 April 1986; Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 9 April 1986; and The Royal Festival Hall, London, 26 November 1986.

The first BBC broadcast was given by David Titterington at Coventry Cathedral on 4 July 1989, introduced by the composer. Recordings have been made by Keith Jarvis and Christopher Hughes and Jennifer Bate included the Blue Rose Variations in Complete Solo Organ Works by Peter Dickinson, Naxos 8.572169 (2009).

© 2008-24 Estate of Peter Dickinson