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Epitaph And Refrain Op.89


By Giles Swayne

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Flute French Horn Viola Harp
Score. Composed by Giles Swayne. Music Sales America. Score Only. Novello & Co Ltd. #MUSNOV957825. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (HL.14037577).

Item Number: HL.14037577

Giles Swayne wrote this piece to commemorate the life of his brother-in-law, Nii Sackey Codjoe, who came to England from Ghana as an illegal worker. Sackey's goal was to make money to give himself a better future in his home country, but he was made redundant with the result that his life fell apart. He gambled and drank away all the money he had saved, and eventually died of heart failure. Sackey's story is all too common, but none the less tragic for that. He left no children, and his warmth and laughter were blotted out by a world for which he was not adequately equipped, leaving nothing behind. Nobody except a handful of kind Ghanaian church people came to hiscremation, which was paid for by the hospital where he died.

In the piece, a simple 25-bar refrain is gradually transformed, recurring four times. These four refrains are interspersed by four episodes, which give a musical portrait of aspects of Sackey's life and character. After the fourth refrain comes the final section, Valediction, in which we hear his pulse (represented by flute, horn and viola) falter and cease, while the harp quietly plays the melody of a hymn which was a favourite of Sackey's:

'Rock of ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee...'.

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