Six Secret Songs

Piano solo for children


7 minutes


Opus 162

Dedication To celebrate the birth of Ivor Hodgson's daughter, Sara

Commissioned by





Piano solo


1. Andante
2. Allegro
3. Adagio
4. Andante
5. Allegro moderato
6. Andante


Composer Notes

Programme Notes

Short Note by Paul Griffiths

A charming set of pieces for beginners, and with quite enough interest to stand up well in a school concert.

Longer Note by Carson Cooman

Peter Maxwell Davies wrote this set of six short pieces in 1993 as a gift for a friend (a double bass player and composer from the BBC Philharmonic) who was celebrating the birth of his daughter. Despite the reason for writing them being most “occasional”, these pieces are certainly not lacking in musical substance as one might expect an “occasional” piece to be. These pieces are ideal works for young performers to introduce them to playing modern music or even as an introduction to the broad range of Maxwell Davies’s work. The range of styles explored is great: the first piece presents a lyric melody over the top of a simple bass much in a style that sounds very much like some of his other piano works (notably Farewell to Stromness (1980), Yesnaby Ground (1980), and An Orkney Tune (1998)).

The second piece starts out by presenting a jaunty little tune which then is subjected to rhythmic and thematic transformations at a level just complex enough for a young performer to fully appreciate it. The third piece demonstrates a motion in and out of traditional tonality. The fourth piece consists of a series of phrases in triple meter undergoing a wandering search for a tonal centre. The fifth piece plays with transformations on traditional chords in syncopated rhythms, and finally the six piece presents a “row-like” series of pitches in the beginning in the upper regions of the piano, moves down lower, and then builds a cluster chord note by note, then quickly dies away with a traditional Maxwell Davies enigmatic ending.


First Performance