Duncan Druce

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Duncan Druce (born 1939) is a British composer, string player and musicologist. He is particularly noted for the breadth of musical disciplines in which he specialises and the uniformly high standards of his work in all of these areas.

Education and Academic Life[edit]

Druce was born in Cheshire, England and in 1957, entered King's College, Cambridge which later awarded him a double first in music. Subsequently, he completed a Masters at the University of Leeds and, in 1984 embarked upon a second Masters degree, at the University of York, choosing this time the music of southern India as the topic of his thesis. In 1991, Druce chose to stand down from his long standing post as Senior Lecturer at Leeds University's Bretton Hall Campus, in order to continue to meet the ever growing demands for his work as both a performer and composer. Druce still lectures in composition part-time at the University of Huddersfield.

Performing career[edit]

When working as a music producer for the BBC in the late 1960s, Duncan Druce became a notable and much in demand violin and viola player of contemporary music. He was an original member of Harrison Birtwistle's Pierrot Players, named after Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire which was in indeed the work which first brought Druce's playing to public attention in a masterful performance of the infamous violin/viola part. Membership of this ensemble was the key for Druce into New Music Manchester, among whose famous sons are also Alexander Goehr and Peter Maxwell Davies whose respective ensembles 'Music Theatre Ensemble' and 'Fires of London' Druce was also a member during this period.

Contrastingly, Druce is also one of the most respected figures in the performance of Early Music. One of the few living British champions of the Viola d'Amore, he has been a member of Christopher Hogwood's Academy of Ancient Music, was an original member of the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and continues to play with groups such as the Penine Chamber Ensemble. Druce still regularly performs, either on one of his baroque violins, violas or his viola d'amore in intimate and not-so-intimate recitals across the country.

List of Compositions[edit]

  • Sonata for violin and Piano (1965)
  • Piano Trio (16’) (1967)
  • Jugalbundi, for clarinet and viola (1968)
  • Hora Rumana, for violin and piano (5’) (1969)
  • String Quartet No 1 (22’) (1969)
  • The Tower of Needles, for soprano, violin/viola, cello, clarinet, flute/picc., piano, perc. (28’) (1970-1)
  • Whose doing is it? (Tolstoy), for narrator, string orchestra, percussion (14’) (1971)
  • A Red King’s Crown, for piano (16’) (1971)
  • Chiasmata, for two violas (12’) (1972)
  • Images from Nature, for voice, flute, cello, piano (11’) (1973)
  • Fantasy and Divisions, for orchestra (2121 1110 perc. strings), on a theme of J.H.Schmelzer (25’) (1974)
  • Märchenzeit, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, glockenspiel, piano (1’30”) (1974)
  • Solo for Emily, for viola d’amore (7’) (1975)
  • The Creator’s Shadow, for flute, basset-clarinet, viola, cello, guitar, perc., piano (22’) (1975)
  • Udana, for recorder and harpsichord (1976)
  • Concert piece, for bass clarinet and piano (1977)
  • The Floor of Heaven, for basset-clarinet and fortepiano, or clarinet and piano (20’) (1978-9)
  • Campanella Madrigals, for soprano, mixed chorus, wind ensemble (1222 2230) and double bass (33’) (1979)
  • Hoxton Variations, for violin and guitar (1980)
  • Lacerta Agilis, for flute and piano (5’) (1981, published by Forsyth)
  • Prelude, for piano, clarinet, violin, cello (7’) (1981-2)
  • Two Night-pieces, for bassoon solo, and for three bassoons (1982, published by Forsyth)
  • String Quartet No 2 (24’) (1982)
  • Before Dawn on Thursday, for solo recorder (6’) (1984, published by Forsyth)
  • The Last Post, for viola d’amore and live electronics (1984)
  • Concerto Popolare, for violin and string orchestra (finale arranged from Hora Rumana) (22’) (1986)
  • Venkatamakhi’s Dream, for clarinet and string quartet (26’) (1988)
  • “We were like them that dream”, for mixed chorus (18’) (1990-1)
  • String Quintet (2 vln., 2 vla., cello) (28’) (1991)
  • Fives, Sixes and Sevens: Rhapsody for violin and piano (7’)
  • Snowstorms on a Postcard, for (youth) orchestra (3242 4331 3 perc. timp. strings) (12’) (1993)
  • Earth, Sun, Moon, for mixed chorus and renaissance wind instruments (shawms, cornetti, recorders, trombones – *or modern equivalents) (10’) (1995)
  • String Quartet No 3 – Homage to Smetana (22’) (1996-7)
  • The Garden of Cyrus, fantasia for five viols (12’) (2000)
  • Scanned across the dark space, for orchestra (3232 4331 perc., timp., harp, strings) (9’) (2000)
  • The Selfish Giant – musical show for children. Text, after Oscar Wilde, Clare Druce (2001)
  • Three Settings of Ave Maria, for two violins and cello (6’) (2001)
  • Rainbow Stories – musical show for children. Text, Clare Druce (2002)
  • String Quartet No 4 (12’) 2004-5

Mozart Scholarship[edit]

In 1984, Druce finished a new completion of the Mozart Requiem, which was performed at the BBC Proms in 1991. This completion (which is published by Novello and includes a new edition of the original and most famous Süssmayr completion) is still widely performed today. In his preface to the score, Druce explains,

Whilst the work as a whole has proved to be one of Mozart's best loved and most admired, it has been clear ever since [Süssmayr's completion] was first published that it sometimes lacks the perfection of detail, smooth craftmanship, the imaginative relationship of subsidiary material to the whole that is so characteristic of Mozart's other mature masterpieces. Süssmayr's orchestration [...] may not often get in the way of Mozart's vision, but rarely enhances it.[1]

Although the Requiem is by far the most substantial of Druce's Mozart completions, he has several others to his name which include Quintet Movement for clarinet and strings K516c (commissioned by Alan Hacker, a lifelong friend), and Concerto movement for horn and orchestra in E, K494a.


  1. ^ Druce, D., Preface to 'Mozart: Requiem' (Novello 1993)