by Roger Quilter.
For many years I have wondered why it is that whilst Roger Quilter possessed considerable talents as an orchestrator, this well-known work is almost always performed in an orchestral arrangement by Percy Eastman Fletcher.
The mystery was finally solved recently when I happened to be in contact with Dr Valerie Langfield, who is a music teacher and tutor based near Manchester. Dr Langfield has taken a great interest in the life and work of Quilter, and is the author of a very comprehensive and highly-acclaimed biography of the composer.
The definitive answer is that the Dances were originally conceived and written for full orchestra. Percy Fletcher was then commissioned to re-score the work for much-reduced forces, because it was considered likely to maximise its potential for sales and hirings in that form.
(It appears that Fletcher often undertook arranging work of this kind. I have come across another example - viz. his orchestral arrangements of some pieces by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, which I believe were made after their composer’s death).
The original full-orchestral score was never printed, and because it only exists in manuscript form it is seldom, if ever, performed.
Roger Quilter himself made and published further arrangements for solo piano and piano duet; the latter was given by Dr Langfield and fellow-pianist David Owen Norris at a Quilter festival some years ago.
© April 2016