John Macfarlane

Composer and Arranger

The basic training in music theory and harmony received as a teenager prompted an interest in composition which blossomed in later life. The majority of his works are for voice, either solo or choral.

His first worthwhile song, The Death Bed, is classically strophic but with a different twist in each verse. The Linnet Cycle started out as one song (the 4th) and when more poems featuring the linnet were encountered the cycle was completed. The duet for tenor and bass clarinet is remarkable not only for the unusual combination but also for the use of a 12-tone row in 4 recognisable triads.

The two compositions for flute (Badinage and Sensation) reached the finals of the Fluticon Composition competition. *

The complexity of the polyphonic writing for the piano in works by Dennis Hyams and Alexander Zemlinsky led to them being arranged for chamber ensembles. For his own Rhayader string chamber orchestra John arranged several miniatures; four of these are now in the library of Amsterdam Sinfonietta.  **

His arrangements for symphony orchestra of  two piano pieces by Chopin and  and Rachmaninov have been played under the auspices of the Scarbo Piano Collective.

He has made several arrangements for the standard wind quintet (Board Reviews, A Spanish Selection, Four Romantic Gems); all are playable by talented amateurs.

A set of Shakespeare songs by Roger Quilter has been orchestrated for baritone and string orchestra and is now available from Boosey & Hawkes under the title ‘ A Pretty Ring Time’. It is intended to be a companion piece to Gerald Finzi’s ‘Let Us Garlands Bring’.

The other arrangements and all compositions are available from the author. See contact details.

….am consistently impressed with your orchestration
your feeling for instrumental color
Jeff Hamburg, composer.

Wat een leuke en goeie arrangementen
Willem de Bordes, Artistic Director of Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Vocal compositions

Title Poet Voice/Instruments
The Death Bed Thomas Hood Bar. / Piano
Sensation Arthur Rimbaud Tenor / Flute, Cello
The Storm Susannah Macfarlane Bar. String / Orchestra
The Linnet Cycle:
Walter de la Mare Tenor / Clar. Piano
James Elroy Flecker Tenor / Piano
Juliana H. Ewing Tenor Bass Clarinet
Robert Bridges Tenor / Clar. Piano
To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence
James Elroy Flecker SATB / choir
Remember Me Christina Rosetti Bar. + SATB choir

Instrumental compositions

Title Instruments
Badinage 2 Flutes
Mon Adache Clar/Bass clar & String Quartet
Elegy for DWM Glockenspiel and String Orchestra
Perpetuum Mobile Reed Quintet [Ob. Alt Sax. Cl. Bass cl. Bn]
Exchanges Bass Clarinet & Organ


Composer Title Instrumentation
Albeniz, Isaac A Spanish Selection Fl. Ob. Cl/BC. Bn. Hn.
Bridge, Frank Miniature Pastoral Nr.5 String Orchestra
Chopin, Fryderyk Mazurka Op 7, Nr 2 2222-4220-perc-strgs
Delibes, Leo Flower Duet (Lakmé) Salon Orchestra
Delibes, Leo Pizzicato (Sylvia) 2222-2200-perc-hp-strgs
Delius, Frederick Serenade (Hassan) Bar. 0011-0000-hp-strgs
Dvorak, Anton Andante (Suite Op 98) Wind Quintet
Elgar, Edward Romance for Bassoon Bn +1010-0000-strgs
Gade, Niels Tanz der kl. Mächen Wind Quintet
Gal, Hans Piano Fugues Nr 12 & 13 2Cl. Bsthn. Bass cl.
Gal, Hans Piano Fugues Nr 12 Cl. Alt sax. Bass cl. Bn
Gal, Hans Piano Fugues Nr 13 Ob. Alt sax. Bsthn. Bn
Gershwin, George Summertime 2122 2000 Strgs
Gershwin, George Summertime Fl.Vc.Pf.
Holman, Derek Sweet was the Song Sop. Alt. Piano
Hyams, Dennis Life Invited Me Sop. Fl. Bass cl. Strg 4t
Hyams, Dennis A Rainy Day Sop. Fl. Bass cl Strg Trio
Hyams, Dennis Alone Sop. Fl. Bass cl Strg Trio
Hyams, Dennis When the Thorn Blows Sop. Fl. Cl/Bass cl. Strg 4t
Hyams, Dennis To Autumn SATB; 111(BC)1-1000-11111
Joplin, Scott The Entertainer Wind decet
Kirchner, Theodor Albumblatt Wind Quintet
Maconchy, Elizabeth The Sewing Machine 2 Cl.
MacDowell, Edward Nautilus Op 55 Nr 7 String Orchestra
MacDowell, Edward Jagdlied String Orchestra
Quilter, Roger A Pretty Ring Time Bar. String Orchestra
Rachmaninov, Sergei Valse (6 Morceaux Op 8) 2222-2200-perc-strgs
Rachmaninov, Sergei Romance & Scherzo Wind decet
Rachmaninov, Sergei Romance Piano Duet
Rossini, Giachino La Regata Veneziana Sop. Alt. + Salon Orchestra
Saint-Saens, Camille Chanson Espagnole Sop. Alt. + Salon Orchestra
Seiber, Mátyás Easy Dances 1011-0000-pf-11011
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Legend Op 54 String Orchestra
Unknown Board Reviews Wind Quintet
Wagner, Richard Albumblatt Wind Quintet
Wolf, Hugo The Italian Songbook Fl/picc. Ob/CA.Cl/Bcl.Bn.Hn en Strg 4t. Db
Zemlinsky, Akexander Trio Op 3 (Cl. Vc. Pf.) Cl. Vc. + Fl. CA. BC. Bn. Strg 4t.Db