I wrote a piece for flute quintet at the weekend! I should explain – I don’t generally go around composing random flute pieces, but I’ve done a couple of arrangements of Scottish folksongs for Sheffield Flute Choir, and I thought I’d arrange another. Arranging is fun, and safely within my comfort zone. I do it quite well – but I don’t claim to be a composer.
So, when I thought I’d do another arrangement, all I had to do was choose a tune, right? I was completely certain there was a piece called ‘Ossian’s Dream’, and I decided that, whatever it was like, I’d arrange it. I thought it might be in the Scots Musical Museum – it wasn’t. I looked at the National Library of Scotland’s wonderful Digital Gallery of Scottish music books – it didn’t come up. There certainly was a famous painting by that name by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – indeed, the artist’s sketch also survives – but that wasn’t much help to me. In my mind, the dreaming Ossian in my mind was asleep under rustling trees, his own clarsach silent in front of him, and an Aeolian harp hanging from a branch, occasionally sounding in the breeze. He was indeed remembering fallen heroes, but the setting wasn’t quite like the painting. And I found a very animated, modern piece by Andy Lindquist – no traditional Scottish tune lurking there!
Need I continue? The only answer was to write my own ‘Ossians’s Dream’ for flute quintet. Here’s a midi-file of it:- the Sheffield flautists haven’t tried it yet!