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Eric Reid (1935-1970)

 Mill O’ Tifty’s Annie (1964)

Concert Suite from the Ballad Opera 

Score prepared and edited by Geoffrey Atkinson with introduction and notes.

Eric Reid’s Ballad Opera, Mill O’ Tifty’s Annie, had several performances in the 1960s and was presented with great success in a memorial revival in 1971.  It is based on a true event -  the violent murder of a miller’s daughter - which is still remembered today mainly on account of the poignant text and haunting tune.  When Dr Reid became interested and involved in Scottish traditional music and decided to write a Ballad Opera, it was a natural choice for him to make this folk song the basis of his work.  His technique was to use the text as a framework for the plot, to use the tune as a musical unifying device, and then to weave many other traditional tunes from all over Scotland into the fabric of the work to develop and propel the plot.  A remarkable aspect of this is that the texts of these folk songs are largely left unaltered, save that names are changed where necessary (e.g. a ‘Jennie’ becomes ‘Annie’ and so on).

The plot unfolds seamlessly through the medium of the songs and Eric Reid showed that he had an inspirational touch when it came to arranging the tunes themselves.  Nothing is over-elaborate, but the instrumental writing is resourceful and full of good humour, and the harmonisations are often exquisite, becoming more anguished as the work progresses.  The manner sometimes recalls the work of the Hungarians Bartok and Kodaly, rather than the English Pastoral School.  The rhythmic vitality and clarity of the scoring have Stravinskian echoes.

Opera is by its nature an extravagant medium of expression and so with the permission of the family, this Concert Suite has been devised in order that the best music can be made more accessible and practicable to perform.

The first priority was to identify the best moments musically, but fortunately, and fortuitously, it was found that, with a little juggling, the outlines of the plot could be preserved almost intact.  This Suite contains about half of the music: that which has been omitted is largely concerned with those moments when the characters are reflecting on their situation, or expressing their feelings, where possibly significantly the music is at a lower voltage.

 The music is by no means difficult to perform, and lies within the scope of a resourceful school music department.

Duration: 45  minutes
Difficulty:  Moderately Easy
Resources: Soprano, Two Tenor, Baritone and Bass Soloists 
SATB chorus (some divisi, some a cappella)
Accompaniment -   String Orchestra (or String Quartet + Optional Bass)
Harpsichord (or Piano)


Full Score (pp 243) £20.00 each
Vocal Score (pp 89)  £10.00 each
Chorus Score (pp 19)  £3.00 each   
Parts £3.00 each

All items in any quantity post free.


Piano Solo

Four Short Variations on Searching for Lambs


Edited with introduction by Geoffrey Atkinson

A short but interesting late work for piano (Grade 6 approx.)


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Last updated: 03/03/24 14:01:38