Prima Facie

CDs with online ordering

Piano Duets by Barry Seaman (PFCD236) £6.00/£10.00

Duncan Honeybourne and Helen Cawthorne piano
Available for Pre-Order


1. Piano (1978) [01:12]

2-10. The Tunes in the Beggar’s Opera (1982)

Lumps of pudding [01:13] Greensleeves [01:04] An old woman clothed in gray [00:47] Oh London is a fine town [00:19] Over the hills and far away [01:08] Packington’s Pound [00:38] Would you have a young virgin [00:55] All in a misty morning [00:55] Untitled [00:47]

11. Lovely Joan (1983) [09:55]

Theme and 25 variations

12-14. Dance Numbers (1984)

I. Introduction: Silver Ladies [02:04] II. The Analytical Engine [01:47] III. Rainbow Dance: Alethes and Iris [02:44]

Total Time [25:36]

CD cover with image of water lilies

About this album

Composer Barry Seaman tragically died from Covid in April 2020, aged 73. A memorial album of his work, Imagine Two Rivers, was produced with Prima Facie Records in 2023. It is important to ensure his large body of beautiful music is not forgotten, and continues to be performed and heard. This album features four piano duets Barry composed, which are joyous for performers and listeners alike. The music dances with rich melodic and rhythmic interplay. It also reflects Barry’s love of folk music and dance, and a fascination with the creative possibilities of technology.

Inspired by minimalist music, Piano (1978) is specially written for beginner pianists and was premiered at the University of Sussex in 1985, along with The Tunes in the Beggar’s Opera (1982). Lovely Joan (1983) is a series of 25 variations inspired by the popular folk song, and won the composition prize in the 1983 Wangford Festival, being premiered at the winner’s concert by pianists Harvey Dagul and Isabel Beyer. Variation 10 is subtitled 'tap' as it evokes the sounds of tap dancers.

Commissioned by Harvey Dagul and Isabel Beyer, Dance Numbers was premiered at the Purcell Room on 1st April, 1984. This glittering, kaleidoscopic piano work derives from Barry's unproduced opera A Sum of Loves (1984), about the relationship between pioneering visionary mathematicians Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace and their work on early computers in the 19th century. There are three sections. The first, Silver Ladies, is inspired by dancing automatons that intrigued Babbage. The second section is The Analytical Engine, Babbage's early computer, which was inspired by the Jacquard Loom, and the third, Rainbow Dance, refers to a ballet called Alethes and Iris, which Babbage created as a vehicle for his experimental lighting system. Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow. This section also evokes Barry’s love of the incredible sound colours of the gamelan orchestra.

I hope the release of this album will lead to further performances of Barry’s music and enable more people to enjoy the beauty of his gift.
Jane Seaman, November 2023


Duncan Honeybourne and Helen Cawthorne - piano
Recorded and Produced by Steve Plews 18th February 2024 at Holy Trinity Church, Hereford
Edited and mastered by Simon Crosby Buttle
Artwork by Barry Seaman
Cover and Booklet Design by Simon Crosby Buttle

Barry Seaman

Barry Seaman head and shoulders

Born on 10th December 1946, Barry Seaman realised from a young age he wanted – needed – to be a composer, dedicating himself to that vocation. He told me the happiest time in his life was when he was studying music and composition at York University from 1969 to 1972. He was a prolific creator – even I didn’t appreciate how prolific until undertaking the momentous task of cataloguing all existing scores of his work for Heritage Quay, the archive centre based at the University of Huddersfield, where the physical storage of the British Music Collection is kept. It was fascinating and incredibly emotional to follow threads and see where certain ideas recurred and to trace the evolution of his composition style. Since Barry did not have a publisher of his works, or professional commercial recordings, and I was determined his music must not be forgotten, all the paper scores, and many digital files, are now stored at Heritage Quay and available for anyone to access should they wish to perform or research Barry’s work.

A natural teacher with a unique style, Barry was passionate about sharing and communicating his love of music, film and art. He lived for his music, his friends and his Norwegian Forest cats, Sita and Steve. Kind and trusting, with a strong sense of humour, Barry always thought the best of people. Deeply spiritual, intense, romantic and highly intelligent, revering truth and beauty, his integrity got him into trouble at times. His refusal to conform, and instinct to question – whatever the consequences – gave me the courage to do the same. Meeting him changed the course of my life and influenced so much about the way I see the world. Friends talk of Barry’s distinctive voice, a very talented composer who combined modesty and boldness, whose sincerity was obvious in everything he did, of a gentle man, one of a kind, who deserved many, many more years, who touched so many people’s lives – who leaves something beautiful and everlasting behind him.
Jane Seaman