Ronald Binge: The Watermill


Composed in 1958 by British composer Ronald Binge, The Watermill is one of his most treasured pieces of light orchestral music. As well as in the concert hall, The Watermill was also used in the British comedy film Our Girl Friday. The piece was also used as the theme music for the BBC adaptation of The Secret Garden. 


The Music

The Watermill was originally composed for oboe and string orchestra, however over the years there have been other versions that use different woodwind instruments, such as the clarinet. The oboe version, however, has remained one of the most performed out of them all. 

The piece is quintessentially British, with Binge’s light touch shining through the whole work. The piece is pastoral in style, with rich strings supporting the youthful oboe soloist. The fluctuating strings at the beginning are accentuated by sparkling harp arpeggios, creating a really special kind of atmosphere. 

The simple melody sits on top of the string orchestra, with them both growing and together to create moving climaxes within the music. In under four minutes the music is able to capture the essence of the British countryside, something that many classical music lovers like. The piece ends quietly as the soloist and orchestra unite one final time.


Final Thoughts

Calm in nature and sweet in style, The Watermill is one of Binge’s most poignant works. The relationship between the soloist and orchestra is positive and calming for the listener. The glistening harp work adds to the pastoral feel of the work, making it a real treasure. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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