Bernard Hughes releases album of his solo piano musicCrossEyedPianist
The culmination of a long association with pianist Matthew Mills, Bagatelles represents some 30 years of piano music by British composer Bernard Hughes.
Composing came to me almost accidentally. When I first started writing music, I was concentrating on improving my performance and song writing skills; it wasn’t my original intention to compose orchestral music. Having developed a variation of chord sequences that pleased me, I realised that I was onto something far more powerful and significant. As the pieces developed it became obvious to me that I should form a small ensemble to develop the structure, dynamics and harmonies which I knew instinctively were present but to which I need guidance in expressing.
I was never academically trained in music – something one might assume is a prerequisite for a composer! I began composing through transcription of the music that I sensed in my head. My fellow musicians would assist in piecing together the melodies and harmonies that I instinctively sensed. The small ensemble that I formed was a great help to me; they are extremely talented and were able to improvise and assist me in developing the basic structure.
Many years later, when it was the right moment for me to dedicate myself fully to music, I founded my own larger ensemble, ‘The Edge of Chaos Orchestra’. They loved the music that I had written over 20 years previously, and played some of the pieces at our performances around the UK. After one performance a member of the audience approached me to say how moved he was by ‘The Empty Room’ and had I thought of arranging it for a full orchestra.
It had, of course, been an ambition of mine, but I had no idea or experience in bringing it to life. He offered to help and introduced me to the Director of music at CAMUS who expressed an interest and asked for a volunteer from Kneller Hall to arrange and score the music in his own time for a full orchestra. Step forward Major Craig Hallet DOM of The HHC Band with whom I collaborated at weekends and free time. Craig had that rare gift of identifying what I was hearing in my head. A year later the project was completed and I am thrilled with the results and will be eternally grateful for his perseverance and patience.
The military have inspired me and enabled me to fulfil my dreams of composition. I will be donating a percentage of the royalties from my works to a charity of their choice. We have all been affected by war in some way or another. My Father suffered terribly with PTS with little or no help and I will do what I can to help where possible.
My memories served as powerful inspiration for all four tracks. In particular, the title track, The Empty Room, is a sort of requiem and expresses powerful emotions based on distant memories. I have long had this image of a room rather like the ‘old fashioned’ drawing room. Through my mind’s eye I can still see it very clearly. It was panelled with a bureau and a piano. I am standing in the doorway looking in. Opposite me are two French windows, the one on the left is open with a slight breeze moving the drawn curtains. It is early morning and as I gaze around the room my eyes rest on a photograph on the bureau of a young man in uniform as my eyes roam I see another and yet another and more. I wonder who all of these people are. I have not known them and yet they are here in my home. Years later I recalled this incident and described it to my Father who recognised my memory. It was the sitting room in my grandfather’s house and the photographs were of all the men in the family who did not return from the First and Second World War and whose loss had such a profound effect on all of our lives both now and then.
The Empty Room is my requiem for them. It is for my love, my gratitude, my outrage, my anger, my sorrow and contempt for those who brought this about.
Jimmy Lee’s The Empty Room will be released Summer 2016.