Lost Fairylands
song set for mezzo-soprano, C flute, and alto flute (2014/15)
by Ron Hannah

  1. Lost Fairylands (words by Hillaire Belloc)
  2. Flint (words by Christina Rosetti)
  3. You Are Old, Father William (words by Lewis Caroll)

Duration: 5 1/2 minutes

     Here is a short and peculiar set of songs, written more or less by mistake. I had discovered a composition competition involving singers and pairs of instruments and had thought that they were together. They were not. The contest wanted works for 2 flutes, or for solo voice, but not all 3 together! By the time I realized my error I had already completed the first song. It was based on a poem that I found most striking, but it was also very tiny so that I felt the need to write more songs to make it worth someone's while to perform.

     They range in mood from gently chiding, to philosophic, to silly. The first describes an adult warning a child not to tear the pages of the book he is holding, that respect should be shown, and hands were

 Download Sample Score 

made for finer things, such as shaking the "Massive Paws of Elder Persons", and to pray for "men that lose their fairylands". The second compares gemstones - diamond, rubies, emeralds - to a piece of grey flint lying in the mud. Yes, the others are beautiful, but the flint holds fire. The last is based on Lewis Caroll's famous nonsense verse in which a young man questions his elder's remarkable physical abilities despite his great age, and receives the old man's grumpy responses.

     The songs are fairly straightforward for the singer, but the flutes leap about and mutter to themselves throughout, commenting on the action of each poem. They are independent of the voice almost to the point of being unaware of it in places, yet a close listening will show that the songs somehow hang together in spite of that independence. Harmonically, they range from outright atonal, to a small section in the style of a Bach chorale, to nearly everything between - quite a feat in such a small composition! And once again, to singers, don't be put off by this description: the vocal line is very approachable throughout.

     A computer-generated MIDI version of each song is available by request. The first two utilize a piano sound for the vocal line, and the third is a "voice" sound such has only a computer can generate. You can't make out the words, of course, and I hope it will be sufficient to enable to hear the notes in all three cases. Singers, you might just enjoy these little pieces, but do find talented flautists to accompany you!

     The opening page or two of each song may be downloaded by clicking on the button above, and parts may be obtained from the Canadian Music Centre, or by sending me an email, below. Please inform me if you perform this little set, so that I can keep this website up-to-date. No one ever has, but maybe if I keep asking...