Sea Eagle

For horn solo


9 minutes




Commissioned by





Solo horn


1. Adagio
2. Lento
3. Presto molto

Diego Incertis, Horn. Peter Maxwell Davies: Sea Eagle



Composer Notes

Programme Notes

Short Note by Paul Griffiths

A sketch of the majestic flight of a great and rare sea-bird in music which is mostly slow, though rising to scalic runs of great brilliance and flexibility.>/p>

Short Note 2 by Michael Wheeler

Over the years Davies has written a number of works for unaccompanied wind instruments, including The Kestrel Paced Round the Sun for flute, First Grace of Light for oboe, and The Seven Brightnesses for clarinet. Sea Eagle dates from 1982, and was written for Richard Watkins, then horn player with Davies’s chamber ensemble, The Fires of London. He gave the first performance at Dartington Summer School in August that year.

It is a virtuoso piece full of the kind of bravura writing, particularly the rapid ascending runs, which is such a striking feature of Davies’s orchestral scores. The first movement is the most varied in mood, starting gently but working up to a fortissimo climax marked by flutter-tonguing and spectacular upward swoops. The lento is a quiet, ruminative interlude before the scherzo-like third movement. Here Davies exploits the horn’s capacity for nimbleness and rapid articulation, and explores the instrument’s entire range, sending it down to its very lowest register before taking it up to the stopped high G, the highest note in the entire work, on which it ends.

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


First Performance

Dartington Summer School, Devon

Monday, 16 August 1982

Richard Watkins