(Written in 2001)
One movement work for large wind band.
Dedication: To all members, past and present, of the Northampton Music School.
Commissioned: by Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, with funds from East Midlands Arts.
2pic / 3fl* / 2ob / cor / Ebclt / 3clt* / bassclt / 2bsn / Cbsn / AATBsax / 4hrn / 4trpt / 4trb / eup* / tuba* / db / 4timp / perc(4).
[*these parts all divide]
[Perc – glock / xylo / crotales / vib / t.bell / 3s.dr / t.dr / b.dr / tamb / 2trgle / 3anvil / whip / claves / 2w.blk / 2c.cym / 3s.cym / tam-tam]
Timing: c. 16 mins.
The Fall of Lucifer is inspired by the account of the archangel’s downfall in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. The piece is divided into three sections, which run without break.
The Morning Star. The title of this section is the literal meaning of the name Lucifer and attempts to portray the archangel in all his power and glory, with darker undercurrents perhaps hinting at what is to come. The music starts with a three-note motif, which could symbolise Lucifer and dominates the entire piece.
The Battle. This section attempts to portray the three-day battle in heaven from Lucifer’s point of view. As with any battle, there is the rallying of troops and moments of violence and horror. Halfway through this section, a huge march builds up – but is cut off and the music dies away, only to grow again suddenly at the point that Lucifer realises his fate and is thrown from heaven into the depths of hell.
Flames of Darkness. This section (the title being a direct quote from Milton) is a long, gradual build up to a terrifying conclusion, using ideas already encountered in the piece. At first, in a long contrabassoon solo, one can imagine Lucifer perhaps warily exploring his new surroundings. However, the music gradually gains in power and ends with the opening three-note motive being thundered out with utmost aggression.
- March 2001: Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band, conductor Peter Smalley.
- December 2001: Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Orchestra, conductor Guy Woolfenden.
“It is scored for the full forces of the modern wind band, with prominent roles for percussion, and an extended solo at the start of Part III for contrabassoon – ably taken by Steven Daverson. Becker, a one time pupil of Diana Burrell and Edward Gregson, knows how to handle his huge forces, and is not afraid of the big gesture.
Part One: The Morning Star starts confidently and impressively with a descending three-note motif E,E flat, C which is a resource base for the whole piece, and defines Lucifer in his pomp, dark, austere and dangerous. The music is continuous and Part Two: The Battle, follows without a break.
This section deals with the power struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, and the inevitable conclusion, the expulsion from paradise of the eponymous anti-hero and his followers. The sonic possibilities of such a fall from grace are, literally, God’s gift to a talented composer, and Becker delivers the goods to his players and audience, and the bads to everlasting damnation.
Part Three: Flames of Darkness starts quietly, with the aforementioned contrabassoon solo, which seems to be examining Lucifer in detail from its deep perspective and slightly unnerving sonority. The music thereafter develops in complexity, power and ambition and concludes with a trenchant coda reworking the three-note motif which began the piece.
Congratulations to all concerned with the commissioning, preparation and the performance of The Fall of Lucifer, and, of course, to Samuel Becker for producing a serious, abrasive and confidently achieved work which I am sure will have a further life.”
Guy Woolfenden, reviewing
the premiere for Winds magazine.