Scarborough Variations
for cello and piano (2008)
duration: 6’
GRT • 138


CD available
800 Million Heartbeats
Ashley Brown, Sarah Watkins

ABC Classics

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
King Henry III of England established a fair at Scarborough in the 13th century. It was held in the town for over 500 years but is now mainly remembered in the famous folk song:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lived there,
She once was a true love of mine.

The song exists in many differing versions. I have used the common one that I grew up with and while the tune is overt at times, the form is relatively free, somewhat akin to a fantasia. The piece was commissioned by Joe Hoffmann to celebrate 40 years of marriage to his wife Rosemary – a cellist for whom the piece was written.

Scarborough Variations are based on an English folk-tune we know well, probably due to Simon & Garfunkel. We get snatches of the tune in what Percy Grainger might have called a ‘ramble’, and an absorbing ramble it is, in the company of cello and piano. Only towards the end is the whole tune revealed.”
Gwen Bennett, The Music Trust, December 2015