Their Paths to Heaven’s Gate

Between the edge of Earth and Sky
The men assembled by and by
To wrap themselves in fringed Talit.

Folding high the wings of wool
Around their heads, each hides his face
And mutters blessings in cacophony.
Then mounting high their Pegasus of faith,
They ride and guide the aires of ancient prayers,
Through varied paths, their ways to Heaven’s gate.

– David Goldberg, “Commencing Prayer on Sabbath Morning”


The Door In The Wall

The Door In The Wall is based on an H G Wells short story of the same name. A child experiences bliss in an enchanted garden, and thereafter the door to that garden presents itself to him at various moments in his busy life. Years later, many years later, he has attained all his goals and satisfied all his desires, all of course except one. But now the door eludes him. My music mirrors the arc of Wells’ story.


The Twentieth Century

In the twentieth century, man is born to serve the State. Or so the idealists thought. This music depicts the consequences of that idea.

For 93 instruments: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B-flat, bass clarinet in B-flat, alto saxophone, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B-flat, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, triangle, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, sleigh bells, tom-toms, drum set, gourd maracas, guiro, congas, cowbell, mark-tree, tambourine, wood block, chimes, glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, harp, piano, celesta, solo violin, 12 violin I. 12 violin 2, 8 violas, 8 violoncellos, 6 contrabasses.


String Quartet No. 1

A descending four note motive (forming the intervals whole step – tritone – whole step) animates the first two movements and gives them their melodic and harmonic character, while the final movement progresses from microtonal dissonance to a lyrical conclusion in b-flat.


Septet for Woodwinds

The three movements are titled Jaunty Jolly, Gloomy Gus, and Molto Cozy. The last movement is based on an extra-musical source. I imagined a crackling fire that gradually subsides to a companionable collection of glowing embers.

Septet for Woodwinds is scored for piccolo, flute, alto flute, oboe, English horn, bassoon, and contrabassoon.


Love and Remembrance

This is the kind of film score I want to hear when I watch a romantic comedy. The piano introduces us to our lovers’ joyous theme with an octave leap upward. The music ends with an inversion of the theme and church bells tolling in the distance.



It all began with Steve Reich’s Six Pianos. Six pianists formed Piano Circus to perform his piece, and that inspired other composers to write music for six pianos. Eutropia is my contribution to the genre. It is written in the minimalist style, and as the title suggests, it is my idea of pleasing repetition.


The New Accelerator

The New Accelerator refers to an H G Wells short story of the same name. A scientist discovers an elixir that varies the passage of time and further enriches life’s possibilities.


At Sea

There’s nothing like plunging through the waves with the endless sea before you. As with all soul-restoring journeys, this one begins careworn and ends carefree. My father once told me that his favorite color was blue “because that’s the color of the ocean.” How I understand his passion!


The White Fountain

The title comes from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Pale Fire. John Shade glimpses a white fountain in his near-death experience. He learns to value the possibility of life everlasting rather than its certainty, and he cherishes the “plexed artistry” of life as his one chance to explore the possibility. This piece is scored for strings and percussion, and the tone clusters reflect Mr. Shade’s yearning for the divine.



Edward Elgar composed a lovely tribute to his dog, Mina; this is my portrait of Romeo, our daughter’s greyhound. The parallel thirds are emblematic of how inseparable the two of them were. I will always remember Romeo’s innocent enthusiasm, his gentleness, and his devotion to his mistress.


To hear more of James Danly’s music, go to his Sound Cloud page.