Desmond Ratcliffe’s (1917-2001) first music teacher was his father William Ratcliffe who was a composer and organist at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London. The young boy used to go to the church with his father to hear him practise and sometimes Queen Mary would wander into the back of the church to listen. He learnt the piano and organ and after the early death of his father became a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, where he started to compose. He went on to be educated at Kingston Grammar School and was organist at a local church in Twickenham. He gained entrance to the Royal Academy of Music to study composition. Unfortunately the Second World War interrupted his studies when he had to go into the Army. When the war ended he took up his studies again at the Academy gaining many prizes. He went to work at Novello & Co Ltd in the Reader’s Room under the eye of Walter Emery the leading Bach scholar of his time. He was trained by Emery to become an excellent proof reader and music editor while he continued to compose choral and organ music and make many arrangements.
"Three Pieces, Set I" were published by Novello in 1952. They were not intended to be "played together," but they make for a very nice "suite," so that is how I "combined" them for upload.
The "Prelude" in a flowing G major is marked "Andante" and features a very pastoral nature. There are some very nice harmonic turns, and a perfectly judged climax in the middle. "Interude" is in folk-like, modal F minor and features the Swell Hautboy. "Postlude" is a real winner, featuring tremendous energy, syncopation, a contrasting middle section, and a completely satisfying conclusion.
Ratcliffe's style has many influences, but stands on its own merits. If I were to "compare" him, I'd say he is something the music of Alec Rowley.
If you are interested in the scores, please send me a direct message.
"Three Pieces, Set II" to follow just as soon as I can learn them... ;-)