Lullaby From ‘The Unicorns’


The Lullaby from ‘The Unicorns’ arose from an opera libretto I commissioned from John Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006) in the late 1960s. In his story two unicorns are discovered in a remote part of Africa. Both the East and West want to obtain them for research so they send out rival expeditions. The Western technique is to lure the unicorn with a young girl singing a lullaby. Both East and West capture unicorns but the mythical animals escape in the end.

I never completed the opera but I made a six-movement suite from it called The Unicorns. There are three songs and three instrumental numbers and the first performance was given with Elisabeth Söderström and Solna Brass under Lars-Gunnar Björklund at Ekensbergskyrkan, Solna, Sweden on 31 October 1982. This version was recorded (Albany TROY 760) and my arrangement of the three songs for voice and piano was recorded by Marilyn Hill Smith (Albany TROY365). The career of the Lullaby continued with a version for clarinet and piano, which I premiered with Jack Brymer aboard the Sea Princess in the Mediterranean on 29 September 1986. The oboe version was for Sarah Francis, and Duke Dobing and I have recorded it for flute and piano (Naxos 8.572287). The Lullaby can be played with a variety of solo instruments and is also available for piano left hand and piano solo.


© 2008-21 Peter Dickinson