I am often drawn to extra-musical things to generate motivic and structural ideas for a piece. I have loved this poem for many years and when the opportunity arose to compose a piece for solo organ, it immediately came to mind. The motion – “hurl and gliding,” the structure, and the idea of a masterful, majestic beast, vulnerable to falling, were all central ideas in the process of composing.


I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
  Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists, Twin Cities Chapter
Premiered: November 10, 2003, Minneapolis by Dean Billmeyer


Windhover – Downloadable PDF
Windhover – Printed Score
SKU: HP01-06 Categories: , Tags: ,

Audio Credits: Live performance by Stephen Self
Year Composed: 2003
Duration: 07:15

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