I wrote A Festive Voluntary
(Variations on Good King Wenceslas) in response to a commission from the Southern Cathedrals Festival for the re-opening of the Chichester Cathedral organ. My immediate thoughts as to the main character of this work are clear: it should be festive, joyous and display the richness and diversity of colours of the instrument. Thus I decided to write a continuous set of variations with varying combinations of stops, especially the reeds. Looking for a theme for the variations, I wanted to find something that would connect my country with Great Britain. I found this in the person of our King and national saint and the English medieval tune based on the lovely carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’. I took this tune as the basis for the Voluntary
, in the hope that the joyfulness of this melody would be reflected in my variations.
from notes by Petr Eben © 2005
English: Roland Smithers