Celtic impressions
for organ solo

Composition Date: 2003
Revision Date: 2004
Genre: Keyboard, Organ (Pipe or Electric), One Keyboard, Two Hands


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Organ
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Programme Note:
When Gayle Martin from the Maritimes approached me to write a "Celtic Suite" for Organ, the possibilities seemed infinite due to the wide range of meanings and associations with the word "Celtic", old and new. After discussions with her, I decided to focus more specifically on Scotland, its people and music: My own impressions from visits to Scotland, its beauty and ruggedness, its music, energy, colour, a country full of memories of courage, struggle, joy and pain. Its folk music (songs and dances) - even if there is a borrowing and re-use of materials in various Celtic regions - captures something of the essence of this rich culture and forms a natural source for the Celtic Impressions. From a large number of Scottish airs and dances Gayle Martin had provided me with, I selected six (2 strathspeys, 2 airs and 2 jigs) as basis for the work. These materials, as well as the way they are traditionally performed, are naturally stylised in an organ idiom.

The first movement's main themes are loosely based on two reels (strathspeys), "Over the muir among the heather" (origin unknown) and "Mrs. Fordyce of Ayton's Strathspey" (by Robert Mackintosh, late 1700's). The movement is in Sonata-form with a slow introduction and concludes with the two themes combined in a semi-contrapuntal manner.

Two airs from the Southern Uplands, On Ettrick Banks (words from Ramsay's "Tea-table Miscellany", 1724; the air, from the Orpheus Caledonius, 1725) and "Ae Fond Kiss" (famous poem of Robert Burns, 1792; melody from a later period), inspired the slow movement, which is in a Rondo form. Both airs have a haunting quality of the bitter-sweet of love: "On Ettrick Banks", of two lovers in the early evening glow on the banks of the Ettrick river envisioning a promising future; "Ae fond kiss", of the painful parting of two lovers.

The third movement Rondo makes use of two Jigs: "Greensleeves" (Scottish version of 16th Century jig?) and "Dunkeld House" (Niel Gow, late 18th century).

The Finale movement (which was written after the premiere of the work in three movements in January 2004) is a Toccata in three sections based on two Scottish marching songs, "Scotland the Brave" and "Loch Lomond", the final section being a combination of both melodies.

Acknowledgement: The Marjorie Young Bell Fine Arts and Music Fund at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, for underwriting this work.

Premiere Information:
I-III: January 31st, 2004, West End Christian Reformed Church, Edmonton Alberta; Gayle Martin. -- IV: May 2005, Chapel, Mt. Allison University, Sackville, NB; Gayle Martin.


  • Call Number:
  • MI 2410 K66cel 2005
  • Genre:
  • Keyboard, Organ (Pipe or Electric), One Keyboard, Two Hands
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • May 18, 2005
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (ii, 60 p.) ; 28 cm.
    62 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • I. Two strathspeys (Over the muir amongst the heather / Mrs. Fordyce of Ayton's strathspey) -- II. Two airs (On Ettrick banks / Ae fond kiss) -- III. Two jigs (Greensleeves / Dunkeld house) -- IV. Toccata on two marching songs (Scotland the brave / The Loch Lomond song)
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