*GRANPA op.393 (January 1988)

An animated children's opera (awarded the Prix Jeunesse International)
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd - to rent music or hire film for projection, contact: howard@howardblake.com
Commissioned by: The original animated film was commissioned by Channel 4 Television London
Instrumentation: Granpa (speaker/singer,medium voice). young girl, Emily (girl soprano/speaker). SATB(soloists), children's chorus, dog, hippo.
2(=picc).1.2(II=bcl).1 - 2211 - perc(2): timp/ SD/drumkit:(BD/SD/hi-hat)/susp.cym/cyms/tgl/guiro/glsp/vib/xyl/flexatone/bell tree/mark tree/sleigh bells/bongos/wind machine/bird warbler/2 wdbl/2 tpl.bl/BD/ tam-t - pno(=cel+opt organ) - harp - strings
[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Words and music by Howard Blake, adapted from the story-book by John Burningham
Duration: 26 mins
First Performance:

Hong Kong June 19th 2005: The City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong;  Diocesan Girls' Junior School Choir; Granpa, Joe Junior; Emily, Dorothy Tang; Soprano, Valerie Chan: Tenor, Richard Frewer; Bass, Edmund Kwan; Conductor, Leanne Nicholls. 

Sheet Music Available
Piano / Vocal score for sale
Vocal score for sale
Full score for hire
Study score for hire
Orchestral parts for hire
Piano / Vocal score for hire
Vocal score for hire
Recordings Available

To listen to an excerpt refer to opus 360

Originally released by CBS/Sony GRANPA CD CBS/SONY HB1 1988. 

Re-released by Highbridge HM6002 April 2006 from whom it is available on request. (see links on Highbridge Music home page) under license from SBE Subsidiary BV


'Granpa' was originally created as an animated children's opera filmed for Channel 4 TV London. The animation company was TVC who had previously made the award-winning animated film 'The Snowman' for which Howard Blake had also created both words and music.

'Granpa' follows the fantastic adventures of young Emily and her rumbunctious elderly grandfather. Each time she visits him their day-to-day activities somehow transform into fantastic adventures. Caterpillars and spiders become giant, the house becomes Noah's Ark, a rollercoaster turns into a Spitfire - there are fiery dragons on the bed covers and tendrilled jungles in the greenhouse. But Granpa is an old man and his health is failing. In a heartbreaking finale Emily arrives to play at Granpa's house one day, but finds him gone forever. A beautiful and sensitive study of that special relationship between old and young.

 (for further information on the film see opus 360)




Leaves are green and the grass it is growing
Flowers bloom and the wind it is blowing
Weave worlds of make-believe
See to eternity
Leaves are gold and the grass it is going
Flowers fade and the wind it is blowing

Breathe no sigh for the day that is parting
Welcome spring and the year that is starting
Leave worlds of make-believe
See to eternity
Leaves are gold and the grass it is going
Flowers fade and the wind it is blowing


31st May 2009 Macao Orchestra of the macao SAR government conducted by Francis Khan., Macao Cultural Centre
12th June 2008
- 14th June 2008
Windmill Performing Arts,Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Timothy Sexton, Director Andy Packer,Designer Geoff Cobham, Adelaide, Australia

5 performances,June 12,11am;june 13 11am and 5pm;June 14;2 and 6pm

19th June 2005 Joe Junior, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Anthony Inglis, Kowloon City Hall, Hong Kong
9th July 1989 Bernard Cribbins (Granpa), London Voices, Wroughton Middle School Choir, Trinity Boys Choir and The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer,, The Royal Festival Hall, London


A double-bill of 2 operas 'The Composer is Dead' and 'Granpa'

This is a deftly essayed double bill that opens up the lofty world of classical music to young hearts and intellects.

Director Andy Packer had done a great job with a very clever, informative and poignant hour of family entertainment.

And conductor/musical director Timothy Sexton’s capable hand helps the orchestra get into the spirit of the shows.

The common fun factor is Paul Blackwell who plays the Detective in the first piece by Lemony Snicket.

The Composer Is Dead and Blackwell’s gumshoe must interrogate each section of the orchestra to try and find the culprit.

It’s a nifty way to introduce the full range of instruments to a young audience and drop plenty of oneliners along the way.

Blackwell has a comic visage a child can trust and his connection with the crowd keeps them focussed an interested in who really dunnit.

Howard Blake’s touching ensemble play Granpa which is a marvellous companion piece to the first half.

When his young granddaughter Emily chats to her Granpa they end up on a series of fantastic adventures.

Jasmine Garcia sings with clarity and purity in the plum role of Emily, taking flights of fancy with her gentle Granpa.

The youth ensemble do a wonderful job, never intruding and always enhancing the action.

Special mention to Lucy Gogel-Ellis for her soaring soprano solo in the final moments as Granpa finds his rest.

This is a show that could do with a revival, especially at the 2009 Come Out.


Windmill Performing Arts & ASO

Matt Byrne, Sunday Mail (Adelaide), 21/6/2008

The material is crammed with invention from beginning to end. It looks at the world from both pairs of eyes, young and old, as their fantasy unfolds; toys come to life, mud pies turn into strawberry ice-creams, and there is the ultimate little girl's fantasy - she becomes a princess riding on a tall white horse. The score directs the piece, giving it pace and and meaning.

Andrew Vaughan, Insight Magazine, 1/12/1989

With the lightest of touch, Howard Blake has translated John Burningham's book for young children, 'Granpa' into music with voices - the little girl is played by Emily Osborne, natural, without a trace of drama-school artifice. Peter Ustinov makes an endearing character of Granpa, with marvellous professionalism and warmth...Granpa is near perfection.

Linda Innocent, Hi-Fi News and Record Review, 1/2/1989

Related Works

'*MAKE BELIEVE' op.358 (December 1985)
The song for the animated film 'Granpa'
'*GRANPA' op.360 (February 1986) (Audio Sample Available)
Score, songs and lyrics for a Channel 4 animated film featuring the voices of Peter Ustinov and Sarah Brightman. PRIX JEUNESSE INTERNATIONAL
The concert work based on the animated film, arranged for voice and piano by the composer

Related Autobiography Chapters


[Back to top]