The very first composition I ever wrote was on the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales in 1986. It was about the train pulling out of the station with all the slate from the Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
Then there was a bit of a gap. I achieved a grade 1 distinction in AB Music Theory with my violin Teacher Catherine Horlock in 1992 and then composed 3 things for GCSE. A sketch for a Requiem Mass for my father who had just died. Sarah’s song for my first love, and Waltz Nr.1. I also studied for and passed grade 5 theory with Cambridge Graduate Alison Daniels. I achieved a pass in A Level Music London Syllabus B with performance Major in 1996 having passed GCSE Music also. I wasn’t so hot on the listening paper but was good on the performance exam.
Then I I composed a few songs and short piano pieces for my favourite girlfriend in Germany at college in Wuppertal, a piece for her birthday, and a song for a mutual colleague of ours that gave me extra aural training for the dictation exam. It was there that I passed my second study exam under Jan Ehnes and my Aural (1 part, 2 part and 4 part dictation), Harmony (functional theory, chorales, and oral harmony exam), 2 Part-Renaissance counterpoint, acoustics and general music theory (range of instruments, mouthpieces, tuning systems), Musicology (1.5 hr talk in German on the Operas of Glück), Piano and Forms.
I decided to have a break from music for a while until I lost the love of my life and felt very depressed and suddenly discovered a prolific talent for composition. I started to play a lot. I learned 6 pieces on my own whilst I was doing my finals for my linguistics MA Für Elise by Beethoven, Waltz by Gurlitt, Sonatina in C by Clementi, the Cuckoo Rondeu be Daquin, Erste Verlust by Schumann, and the famous Rondo by Mozart. I then started to improvise songs for my ex and attempted to learn Beethoven Op.79 1st movement practising every day for year and falling flat on my face, however I seemed to internalise the structure of a sonata and found I could write them at first. I wrote 3 sonatas for my ex and a whole host of other lovers and important people in my life as well as celebrities I fancy. There are 17 piano sonatas and 5 Violin sonatas, 2 concertos for violin and piano, songs, SATB, string quartet, cello suite, improvisations, and shorter instrument pieces, realisations and pedagogical pieces including original psalm chants and chorales. 135 pieces in total so far. The encouraging thing is I can play some of them after all and I’m now studying for piano grade 8 so it is getting easier with age. Nothing’s fossilised yet!
This is me playing the third movement from my first sonata Bell’ Angioletta. The final movement from my Sonata Nr.12 and A song called the Beauty of Maastricht which I suppose I should play as well as sing, never mind! Academically I now hold grades 6,7, and 8 music theory via self-study with my name on the certificate as teacher to myself most notably with a merit on the last 2 questions at grade at at 21 marks a piece. I achieved this at between 2011 and 2013. Then wrote the majority of my pieces in the last five years.