*WINTERDREAM op.552 (April 2005)

A setting of Keats' 'La Belle Dame sans merci' for children's choir and piano
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Inez Russell/The Wandsworth Children's Music Festival
Note on Lyrics: Poem by John Keats (1795-1821), first version of the text April 28th 1819
Duration: 7 mins
First Performance: February 4th 2006 Cadogan Hall in the presence of Princess Alexandra. Peter Bailey(piano) with children's choir conducted by the composer
Sheet Music Available
Piano / Vocal score for sale


Composer's note: I had always been fascinated by this poem and first tried to set it in 1958 (unsuccesfully). Many years later in 1994 I composed a tone-poem for large orchestra, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', for the 10th anniversary of English Heritage. I chose the subject because the concert premiere was to take place by the lake at Kenwood (Kenwood Lakeside Concerts) and it is possibly the lake that inspired the idea since Keats lived nearby and frequently walked there. He had written the poem 175 years earlier. 11 years later when I was asked to compose a song for children's choir I thought of the poem again and sketched this song out complete on April 28th 2005. By a strange coincidence I then found out that Keats had written his poem on the same day, April 28th but in 1819, 186 years earlier. By an even stranger coincidence when I noted how many bars there were in the song it turned out to be 186. I named the song 'Winterdream' which seemed a nice title but also to prevent it getting confused with the orchestral piece.

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18th December 2016 Richard Edgar Wilson (tenor, Howard Blake (piano), Aldeburgh Music

Recordings of Howard's songs for tenor and piano made in Snape/Aldeburgh with tenor Richard Edgar Wilson and the composer as pianist, released December 18th 2016 on Highbridge Music, www.howardblake.com. Enquiries; anna@annamenzies.com

25th November 2006 Dolphin School & Hornsby House School choirs cond by Stephan Cooper, St John's Smith Square- Wandsworth Children's Music Festival grand farewell gala concert
4th February 2006 Peter Bailey(piano)and combined children's choirs conducted by the composer, Cadogan Hall London in the presence of Princess Alexandra.

First performance

Related Works

'*LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI' op.462 (May 1994)
A tone-poem for large orchestra

Related Autobiography Chapters

HRH Sultan Idris of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and SULTAN'S SONG (2005)

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