The Highwayman Came Riding

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page one of The Highwayman Came Riding

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WINNER! of the Sibelius Music User Competition hosted by Stefan Kristinsson - August 10 - September 24, 2002.

The rules for this competition were to write a score for a predetermined size orchestra utilizing two motifs in a specific key. Those that participated proved that this site has some very talented contributors.

"The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, for those of you who may not be familiar, is one of the best written tragic poems of the early 20th Century. A complete text can be found at this web address:

I hope that I have captured the essence of this great work of literature and that you enjoy listening to my musical interpretation.

Here are just a few of the comments made by voters in the competition:_ _ "You should write a piano concerto. . . I really liked the ?marcato? feeling present in your piece, riding on the ?crisp? rhythms." ?Robert Thoms_

"I liked David O?Quinn?s ?The Highwayman Came Riding? the best, particularly with the careful string triplets at the beginning. I saw some classical harmonic progressions that I enjoyed. I considered this piece to have good development; good play from instrument to instrument and a nice ending." ?David Young_

"This one held my attention throughout the entire piece and I especially like the rhythm of the first section. This would also be my choice if I had to pick one to perform. It would be very enjoyable for an audience." ?Morris Blackham_

"The honor of best composed, best concept, most consistent piece is and has to be David OQuinn's "The Highwayman Came Riding". From start to finish, it's very consistent and survives after many listenings. I can't get the ostinato triplet 8ths, with the two 16th and 8th out of my head. The "dum dum dum, dah-de dum dum", etc. won't go away! The piano entrance and whole section following, etc. is like the best parts of "Danse Macabre"/St. Saens-ish … but then later, it's all David, especially with the horn/trombone and snare, militaristic (approaching Highwayman, doom) theme. But using the pizzicato under that is so classy, and brings us back to the St. Saens's world too…. and hint of Berlioz with the tubular bells, etc. (Was this competition about tubular bells or what?) I have to say the transition to the quiet part with the descending tubular bells a bit awkward for me, especially with the major mode-ish fugue thing, brief sub theme in the violins right after that. BUT the tremelo chromatic strings before the bells is awesome and I wish we had more of that too. The string melodic parts on the page following too are gorgeous. The ending, of course, closes the piece very well and gives us a nice tidy close to a very consistent piece. Very musical!" -Hunter Brown_ As always, if you or your ensemble are interested in performing any of my work, please contact me at

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
5 minutes
Classical music

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