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The Snow Goose

for orchestra


To borrow items or hire parts please email SOUNZ directly at


To understand the music fully, one should read Paul Gallico's story The Snow Goose. In his preface, the author wrote that he wished he had been a composer "to realise the melody that sang inside of me like a peal of an organ". Instead, his admiration for "the courage, the indomitable human spirit of the men who put forth in every kind of small craft" to rescue the British Expeditionary Force under fire from the beaches of Dunkirk was the genesis of the story which has since provided material for several films and radio productions.

Snow geese seen in the Wild Life Sanctuary set up by his friend Sir Peter Scott, together with his expressed yearning for the daughter he never had were further motives cited by Gallico for a birth of his story.

Ever since I first heard it on BBC radio many years ago, I have wanted to express it in music, although not knowing any of the foregoing at the time. My own motivation, which has waited over fifty years for its fulfilment, was the poignancy of the story of Rhayader the hunchback bird painter, shunned by his fellow humans, his care for the birds which visited his lonely, disused lighthouse dwelling and his restoring to life the snow goose visitor, "la princess perdue" as he called her, shot by fowlers and brought to him by the girl Fritha. Every year the bird returned to Rhyader and Fritha, whose growing love for each other as a girl grows to womanhood is thwarted by Rhyader's death as he plies back and forth under fire across the English Channel to rescue the besieged army with "la princess" flying above his tiny boat.