A Sonata for Virginia
for violin and organ, op.94

Derek Healey
Derek Healey
Composition Date: 2004
Duration: 00:20:00
Genre: Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Organ
  • 1 x Violin
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Programme Note:
The inspiration for the first three movements of this work was Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition of 1587 whose intention was to form an English settlement in North America. The site chosen was near Roanoke Island off the coast of present day North Carolina. Shortly after the 121 colonists arrived, Virginia Dare was born to Ellinor and Ananias Dare in August 1587, named after Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. The ship sailed to England for supplies, but was delayed by the war with Spain and didn't return to America for another four years, by which time no trace of the colony was found, except for the word Croatoan (a nearby island and Native American settlement) carved on a tree.

The opening movement, a courtly pavan entitled Virginia Dare: Her Pavan, is by way of being an EMin memoriamCLOSE_EM for the first English child to born in the New World. The dance's form is traditional, consisting of three sections, each of which is followed by an ornamented variation, as was the fashion at that time. This is followed by a jig, a popular, as opposed to a courtly, dance of the sixteenth century. In this movement, little use is made of the pedal keyboard in order to maintain a light timbre, whilst the form is basically ternary; the violin's cantabile melody being built over an ostinato chordal accompaniment.

The EMJigCLOSE_EM is followed by a section entitled EMFantasy: CroatoanCLOSE_EM. This movement, which evokes the feelings of the returning seamen on discovering the disappearance of the settlers, is in the manner of an impassioned recitative.
It uses several short motives, one of which is based on a word carved on a tree: EMCroatoanCLOSE_EM. The movement reaches its climax with the return of the opening pavan which then gradually subsides, ending with a 'dying-fall'.

The finale of the sonata was in fact the first to be written. It was composed in 2003 at the request of Robert Murray and Ardyth Lohuis in repayment for an after-concert meal at an Olive Garden restaurant in their home base of Richmond, Virginia. It was agreed at the time that the work should to be suitable as a closing item for a concert. From the outset, I decided that the piece would stand as the finale of a complete sonata; the other movements were completed some eight months later in April 2004. The resulting movement is in two large sections, the first of which opens with a short repetitive violin motive punctuated with isolated organ chords; the section has an architectural framing function. A repeated-note bridge sections follows which leads into a more lyrical second subject, played by the violin in its high register accompanied by a repeated four measure chordal unit. The bridge section returns followed by the opening section which concludes the first half of the movement.

The finale's second half opens in a faster, moto perpetuo vein in 6/8 time, which then builds into a chorale-like reprise of the second lyrical subject, played this time by the organ. The coda which follows is constructed on a fast three-measure repeated chordal pattern on the organ over which the final recapitulation of the work's opening motives are displayed in a forceful manner by the violin. A short organ fanfare and final flourishes on the violin bring the work to a close.

Premiere Information:
23.8.2006 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia; The Murray/Louis Duo


  • Call Number:
  • MI 3211 H434sov
  • Genre:
  • Strings (bowed), + Keyboard, Violin
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • January 30, 2013
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (52 p.) ;
    52 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 17
    1 violin part (17 p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:

  • 1. Virginia Dare: her Pavan
    2. Jig
    3. fantasy: Croatoan
    4. Finale: A debt repaid
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A sonata for Virginia for violin and organ, op.94: Score
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A sonata for Virginia for violin and organ, op.94: Score and Parts
Score and Parts
(downloadable PDF)
A Sonata for Virginia for violin and organ, op.94 by Derek Healey (Score)
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A Sonata for Virginia for violin and organ, op.94 by Derek Healey (Score and Parts)
Printed on demand
A Sonata for Virginia for violin and organ, op.94
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