Dunstable: Veni Sancte – Veni Creator Spiritus

Realisation for instrumental ensemble


9 minutes




Commissioned by





Alto flute, clarinet in A, glockenspiel, harpsichord (+ piano), viola, cello



Composer Notes

The first movement is a transcription, more or less ‘straight’, of John Dunstable’s original work. The second movement is a free fantasia upon this, making frequent reference to the original by quotation, and performance should bring to the fore the ever-shifting perspectives between the sound-worlds of Dunstable and of the new music.

Programme Notes

Note by Stephen Pruslin

The dual title refers not to the two completely distinct sections that comprise this work, but to the double-texted motet which the first section transcribes. This is set in a dark but brilliant orchestration that admirably suits the flamboyant severity of Dunstable’s thought. The second section is an independent piece that comments on the Dunstable in Maxwell Davies’s own style. It begins by invoking eerie wisps and fragments, but grows into a climax of astonishing intensity before ending in a rapt echo of the Dunstable. The discrepancy between the work’s size and weight gives the impression that a very large piece is being looked at through the wrong end of a telescope, creating a fascinating perceptual distortion.

This is a copyright note, and may not be reprinted or reproduced in any way without prior permission from the author.


First Performance

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

6 May 1972,

The Fires of London