Piano Pieces by June Clark
Reissued in new editions by Charlemagne Music 2004
Available now!
  (Many of these compositions have been regularly used as set pieces in Competitive Music Festivals both in the UK and abroad.)  
  A Pony Ride (Grade 1) CM2303
This piece has an ostinato left hand throughout which depicts the gentle trotting of the pony, and takes a couple of bars to get started. It introduces an accidental into the left hand five-finger position, whilst the right hand plays the simple melody. The ostinato changes keyboard position halfway, together with the right hand. The piece ends with the slowing down of the pony trot. The piece written in Simple Quadruple time has no accidentals in the key signature, only those within the piece.

‘In D minor, the ostinato has a constantly sharpened fourth, the melody never. Some piquant false relations result’. (Musical Times 1964)

‘A pleasing piece in modal tonality, with legato tune over staccato ostinato. A good study for time and tone control’. (Music Teacher 1963)

‘The left hand has an ostinato staccato figure, while against this the right hand plays a cantabile melody. An imaginative little piece, which is also an excellent study in control.’(Music Teacher 1964)

Also for the grade 1 pianist, A Pony Ride is a single movement piece with legato melody sung out over a simple staccato ostinato bass on notes D A G# and E )just above middle C, (later transposed to A). A Pony Ride is an inventive piece that requires a deft touch and careful counting to realise the ppp dynamics and change of pace at the end. (Music Teacher Magazine December 2005.)

  March of the Astronauts (Grade 1) CM2306
The left hand begins with a two-note ostinato on the black keys whilst the right hand plays a five-finger melody on all white keys. The combination of the sounds gives an unworldly sense of being out in space. A middle section uses contrary motion between the hands, with little fanfares. Again there are no accidentals in the key signature, only those within the piece, which is written in Simple Duple time

‘So far, only a few steps – very stumbling at that – have been made in space by one or two astronauts. However, I suppose the time will come when hordes of them will be tramping about the heavens in time, engaged in ceremonies as mystifying to the civilian mind as those evolved by military authorities here on earth below. To suggest the esoteric, June Clark –like many composers before her – uses whole tone derivatives – and the military aspect is suggested by little fanfare-like figures. The young player will find this good fun.’ (Music Teacher 1966)

March of the Astronauts is a cheeky piece aimed at the grade 1 beginner. Clark skilfully employs dissonance to give a sense of the mysterious: the opening ostinato
D flat/E flat quaver pattern taps away under a five-finger G major motive. The astronauts march to a contrary-motion pattern in the middle section which builds to a mini f fanfare outburst followed by an echoed version at pp. (
Music Teacher Magazine December 2005.)

1.The Ghost Train (Grade 1-2)
The piece begins with the train siren, using augmented fourths in each hand. The left hand then becomes the train, with its regular rhythm as it speeds along, and the melody is in the right hand. Towards the end the train siren again sounds and the piece comes to an exciting end, as the train disappears into a tunnel. Compound duple time and written in A minor give a ghostly feel to the train.

‘This is a challenge to imagination and control of changing tone values.’ (Music Teacher 1957)

2.Penny in the Musical Box (Grade 2-3)
The outer sections of this little impression of a musical box are conventional and probably only Grade 1-2, but the middle section is more complex as it modulates through several keys. There is also use of the sustaining pedal that requires the young pianist being able to reach it without standing up. Key C major and Simple Duple time.

This piece contains amusing mechanical effects in perpetual motion, calls for delicate finger legato in soft tone, with use of sustaining pedal (Music Teacher 1957)

In contrasting styles, with lively movement and melodic interest, these two pieces (above) would do well grouped for a child’s recital item (Music Teacher 1957)

Two Pieces for Piano presents two contrasting pieces for grade 1-2 level pianists. The gentle perpetual motion of crotchets and quavers, (no notes below middle C and long eight-bar phrases give Penny in the Musical Box its unique characteristics. Both this piece and The Ghost Train require good command of the sustaining pedal. A series of dotted-minim augmented- 4th stabs in compound duple time sets The Ghost Train in motion. When the train enters a tunnel with a string of quavers, hoots its horn with close harmony or stops marcato f, melodic and rhythmic interest are maintained. But when then train is moving ahead in the middle section, the piece is dull. Two Pieces for Piano, March of the Astronauts and A Pony Ride could serve as young-performer recital material. (Music Teacher Magazine December 2005.)

Toccata Brillante (Grade 8) CM2305
This is a brilliant showy piece for the concert platform. It exploits the toccare (touch) technique from start to finish, with the excitement not letting up for a moment, except just before the very end of the piece. The short poco meno mosso section becomes reflective in mood, but is short lived and the toccata rears its head again and plunges onward to a brilliant ending either ends of the keyboard.
First performed by June Clark, London 1953
Recent performances by composer, Winchester cathedral, Portsmouth cathedral 1998, Carlisle cathedral 1999, Denver cathedral and Boulder (USA) 1999.

‘This piece has the advantage of sounding much harder than it is. It is musically effective and provides opportunity for technical advance. That is has a flavour of the French school is a minor matter, for it has sufficient character to stand on its own.’ (Music in Education 1964)

‘A sparkling addition to a ‘Young Composers’ series. It starts with single semiquavers divided between the hands. These blossom into chords and a powerful climax. The mood of excitement is maintained through quieter, cantabile passages. A striking piece of work, which suggests that the series could be well worth while.’ (Music in Education 1964)

‘Although this could very well take its place as a recital piece I include it here since it has qualities which will strongly recommend it to teachers. As a piece of music quite brilliant in conception, it is also an excellent study in control and phrasing.’ (Musical Opinion 1964)

‘June Clark’s Toccata Brillante is much indebted to an older composer – in this case Debussy. Though not able to bear comparison with Debussy’s finest toccata-type pieces, it is nevertheless a tasteful and agreeable though obviously derivative work. Its modest degree of virtuosity and its clean unfussy style should earn it a welcome among pianists who can tackle, say, Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum.’ (Musical Times 1964)

June Clark wrote Toccata Brillante while a student at the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied composition with Dorothy Howell and Alan Bush, and piano with Cyril Smith. After a long duo partnership with pianist Joan Ryall, Clark now accompanies and composes, and in 2004 launched Charlemagne Music. While her other piano compositions range from grade 1-4 in standard, the Toccata Brillante is a more advanced concert piece for grade 8 pianists and above. Recalling Debussy’s Toccata, this is lively, playful and fun, with pleasing contrasts and a little Spanish flavouring. Needing good finger control and a touch of bravura, it would make an ideal end to a festival recital programme.
(Music Teacher October 2005)

  Suite of five pieces: KING ARTHUR and the KNIGHTS of the ROUND TABLE  
  (Grade 3-4) CM2304
1. The March of the Knights
The strong dotted rhythms of the chordal fanfares in this piece set the scene of the Round Table and the Knights in all their splendour. The use of the sustaining pedal calls for imagination and facility. Key D minor, Simple Quadruple time

2. Queen Guinevere
A gentle piece for a beautiful and gentle Queen needs an expressive quality with graded dynamics and sensitive touch. The sustaining pedal is mostly used throughout. Key G major, Simple Duple time.

3. Merlin the Magician
The piece opens with atmospheric chords to give a sense of the magic. The piece then sets up a left hand Compound Duple rhythm that persists to the end of the piece only to be interrupted by the opening chords once more. Key A minor.

4. The Lady of the Lake
The glassy surface of the lake is portrayed by the left hand, which provides a tiny rippling background enhanced by the addition of both sustaining pedal and the soft pedal (una corda). The right hand melody rises up a fifth, as the arm rises slowly from the water holding the sword Excaliber. Key A minor, Compound Duple time.

5. The Death of King Arthur
‘..the barge with oar and sail moved from the brink, like some full breasted swan… and on the mere the wailing died away’ (from Morte d’Arthur by Alfred Lord Tennyson
This piece, inspire by the poem, is written in Compound Triple time in the key of D minor. The lapping of the water at the edge of the mere is suggested by the left hand rocking rhythm, and the right hand in bare fifths crosses over the left hand. A middle section uses chromatic fragments to illustrate the wailing. The last nine bars of the piece bring back the opening fanfare of the March of the Knights, as a soft reminder of the once great King.

‘The March of the Knights’ evokes the solemn ceremonial that precedes a conclave, and has a dotted quaver-semiquaver rhythm that pervades the whole. ‘Queen Guinevere’ is light and graceful, and explores the upper regions of the keyboard. ‘Merlin the Magician’ is appropriately mysterious, with some sombre, clashing dissonances, but the pace is spirited, and the rhythm must always be clearly marked. In ‘The Lady of the Lake, the continuous quaver movement must not be lost in an over delicate approach at the sight of ppp, especially when it is divided between the hands. Delicacy and clarity must go together. In ‘The Death of King Arthur’, a tolling bells effect entails crossing the right hand over the left, and here care must be taken to preserve the dynamic of the ostinato left hand figure. An attractive suite, which older children are sure to enjoy.’ (Music Teacher 1964)

‘June Clark’s suite ‘King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table’ consists of five quite adventurous little pieces. The first is a robust march rather in a modal vein, and the last a sort of dirge for the death of Arthur ending with a faint echo of the march, a device that gives the suite a sense of wholeness. These pieces will be especially useful in developing an ear for sonorities and for encouraging good pedalling as a means to that end. The two feminine portraits are sensitive, delicate things, and the whole suite is sufficiently unstereo-typed to capture the youthful imagination.’ (Musical Times 1964)

‘The five pieces of this pianistically written suite should appeal to imaginative children. The music should also prove useful for dancing classes.’ (Music in Education 1964)

‘Five evocative pieces based on the legend that still has a fascination for youngsters. Tuneful, and rhythmically stimulating, they should have instant appeal for the imaginative child.’ (Musical Opinion 1964)

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is a highly evocative suite of five pieces based on characters from Arthurian legend. The March of the Knights, allegro maestoso, sets a solemn tone with a dotted rhythm to which the knights march throughout. Queen Guinevere is a graceful and flowing piece that requires pedal control and sensitive touch in the upper registers. Merlin the Magician casts dissonant pp and ff spells and concocts a sombre yet spirited piece of wizardry. The Lady of the Lake emerges to view with ppp legato quaver movement in 6/8 time. The Death of King Arthur rounds off the suite in 9/8 leaving a sense of completeness. Although first published in 1964, the suite holds its own alongside the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings piano adaptations; as it has no expensive glossy front cover or pictures it offers considerably more musical bang-for-your-buck. Excellent original work, ideal for the imaginative intermediate student who dreams of journeys to a magical world. (Music Teacher Magazine December 2005.)

  Suite of seven pieces (1969): HOLIDAY in the HOLY LAND  
  (Grade 2-3) CM2307
1. The Stable in Bethlehem
The melody is a simple carol-like tune, which must be played legato and very expressively, whilst the bare fifths at the beginning and end suggest the bareness of the stable. The use of the soft pedal throughout adds to the delicacy of the piece. In A minor the time is in Simple Triple.

2. The Carpenter’s Shop in Nazareth
The left hand ‘perpetuum mobile’ (continuous movement) represents the sound of machinery, whilst the right hand is divided between snatches of tune that the carpenter sings at his work, and the interruption of staccato hammer taps. At the end of the piece the machinery slows down and stops. There are no accidentals in the key signature. The right hand hammer taps are on the black notes, deliberately discordant.
Time signature is Simple Duple.

3. Fishing Boats on Galilee.
The repetitive figure of the right hand suggests the gentle lapping of the water at the edge of the lake, and the swaying to and fro of the anchored boats, whilst the left hand over the right hand provides the cantabile melody, which must be played very legato and expressively. Intermittent use of sustaining pedal, and soft pedal throughout. Key E minor, Simple Triple time.

4. In the Orange Groves of Jaffa
A folk-like melody in the right hand is accompanied by a typical dance rhythm in the left hand. The melody appears in the left hand for a short time. The piece can be interpreted as the dancing and singing of the orange pickers as they move through the groves. The key signature has one flat and a time signature in Simple Quadruple. Some intermittent use of sustaining pedal required.

5. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The opening triplet figure in the Simple Duple time signature is inspired by the shout of triumph ‘Alleluia’, at the realisation of Jesus rising again from the dead. The piece is processional in character, the middle section evoking the quieter, reverent atmosphere of the church, and building up again to a final exultant proclamation of ‘Alleluia’. Key D Minor.

6. Water Skiing on the Mediterranean
Every holiday has its recreational aspects. In this piece each successive right hand glissando is a little longer, to represent several attempts to ski. By the end of the piece we are somewhat improved and therefore, if it can be reached, the last glissando can go to the octave higher note. The rest of the piece represents our friends, running about on the warm sands, laughing at our efforts. Key C major, Compound Duple time.

7. Wild Flowers of the Jordan Valley
This graceful little piece, probably the most difficult of the suite, is in simple flowing style, with gentle crescendos and diminuendos; whilst the ornaments must always we delicately played, suggesting the frailty of the tiny wild flowers. Key A major, Simple Triple time.

‘The seven descriptive pieces are musical and pianistic so that children should find them comfortable to play’. (Music in Education 1969)

‘Each of these seven pieces is prefaced with a short Biblical text and the composer has added a page of notes on the performance of each title. The Stable in Bethlehem has a carol-like minor tune with a simple opening in bare fifths and a similar ending. The Carpenter’s Shop in Nazareth has a busy left hand perpertuum mobile with right hand acting as a hammer (staccato) and the humming of the carpenter as he works (legato). Fishing Boats on Galilee has a gentle rocking movement and flowing cantabile melody in the left hand part which crosses over the right. In the Orange Groves of Jaffa has a left hand repeated rhythmic pattern suggesting a dance as the orange pickers move through the grove. There is a majestic ‘Allelujah’ for the opening of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a processional theme and a middle section calling for a sustained cantabile touch. Water Skiing on the Mediterranean introduces glissando effects and has a flowing 6/8 melody. Final item, Wild Flowers of the Jordan Valley is in A major and uses light ornamentation by use of the mordent. Useful for a children’s concert in school or church (with readings) (Music Teacher 1969)

‘June Clark’s little pictures have a quotation from the Bible at the head of each. If you see nothing incongruous between a quotation from Psalm 104 (‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works!…So is this great and wide sea also’) and a 6/8 romp titled Water Skiing on the Mediterranean you will let your child play them.’ Has the critic forgotten that this suite is entitled Holiday? (Musical Opinion 1969)

Holiday in the Holy Land comprises seven pieces for grade 2-3 standard which can be played either individually or as a complete suite. Each piece is accompanied by brief programme notes, and there is plenty of variety in terms of style. The Carpenter’s Shop features staccato ‘hammer taps’ with accented 2nds in the RH over a continuous quaver ostinato, while Wild Flowers of the Jordan Valley is more gentle and flowing, with subtle shading of dynamics and graceful ornaments in the melody. In the Orange Groves of Jaffa is a livelier dance movement featuring an Israeli-type folk melody over a L.H. ostinato. A charming collection of accessible material for the younger player (grade 2-3)
(Music Teacher November 2005)


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Many more works are in the pipeline, including songs, anthems, carols, and numerous arrangements for piano duets (four hands at one piano), piano trios (six hands at one piano) and two pianos. Website will be updated as they become available.

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