‘And an old white horse…’

for organ

Martin Bussey

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for organ

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Composer Martin Bussey
Year of Composition 2006
Duration -
ISMN 9790570683895

Instrumentation Organ
Student Difficulty adv
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-mb2owh1


‘And an old white horse…’ was written for organist Tom Bell who has performed the piece widely and also recorded in on the organ of Blackburn Cathedral.

It takes as its starting point a memorable line from T.S.Eliot’s Journey of the Magi. The image of an old white horse galloping away across a meadow is linked to various other images which underline the universal significance of the journey that the Magi make, symbolic in many ways of the journey of the human soul. Alongside images of crucifixion, the image of the white horse links with a passage in Revelation which presages the ‘last things’ of the world. Here the horse is an image of terrifying power; in Eliot, the horse is old, lacking virility and power. The journey taken by this organ piece is not intended to be literal in its reflection of these various sources.

The moods of both images of the white horse come and go in the piece, although the fierce rhythmic drive of the central section is closer to the image of ‘last things’ in its intensity. The work is unified by a melody, heard slowly in the manuals in the opening few pages, which is lyrical, although uncertain in tonality. At the height of the vigorous middle section this melody returns, in a more concentrated form, in the pedals, before the piece returns to the calm of the opening, slowly fading out through pulsating versions of the work’s opening chords.