(scores in alphabetical order)


ALARCH, YR  (THE SWAN) (2016) (Anon.14th century) 6' LISTEN

Version for solo soprano 

Text translated into English by the composer 

1st perf: Elin Manahan Thomas, Powis Hall, Bangor University, 3 March 2016 (Bangor Music Festival). 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, S&B ref  Y341


Samuel's ingenious setting of this anonymous 14th-century poem offers a striking musical evocation of the swan in all its guises, from soaring arcs of melody to pattering snippets of exploratory vocalisation. 

                      Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine, Sept. 2021


Elin Manahan -Thomas’s dexterity in Rhian Samuel’s unaccompanied Yr Alarch is a real treat and shows just how far the art-song medium has been carried forward by Welsh hands and Welsh voices.

                    John-Paul Davies, Buzz Magazine, June 4, 2021

ALARCH, YR (THE SWAN) (2009) (Anon. 14th century) 6'  LISTEN

solo baritone 

Text translated into English by the composer.

1st UK perf: Gwion Thomas, St Joseph’s Church, Highgate, London, 18 Jan 2009; 

1st USA perf: Matthew Hoch, Julie Collins Museum of Fine Art, Auburn, Alabama, 11 Jan, 2018. Toured throughout the southern USA by Matthew Hoch in 2018. 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref Y258

Yr Alarch requires a two-and-a-half octave range, extensive use of falsetto, extreme dynamic contrasts, a variety of vocal tone colours and the use of various extended vocal techniques. Such a palette of diverse sounds is a cornucopia to the ear and stimulates our imagination to envision the wild and untamable swan.

               Matthew Hoch, 'A Shining Crag: Rhian Samuel's Yr Alarch', IAWM Journal, 25,1


medium/high voice and piano 

No. III from The White Amaryllis (see below) 

1st perf: Sharon Mabry, mezzo-sop, Patsy Wade, pf, British Music Information Centre, London, 29 June 1988; 1st broadcast perf: same performers, 27 October 1988 (WGBH Boston).

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, S&B ref H406 


[Before Dawn is]... a poignant new setting of a May Sarton text about mourning – almost Tristan-esque in its  harmony, and with lots of dramatic shifts in volume level before its final resolution on an angry low note. 

                James Wierzbicki, St Louis Post Dispatch, 15 September 1988 


Before Dawn speaks from quiet rage and is set to touching poetry about someone’s ability to mourn . . . The vocal line is full of anxious crescendos and striking half-spoken melodic lines. 

               Whitney Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 27 September 1989



mezzo-soprano and piano

Commissioned by the Fishguard Festival

     I.  Hwiangerdd Dinogat (Lullaby for Dinogat) LISTEN   LISTEN 

     II.  Galarnad Heledd (Heledd’s Lament)  LISTEN   LISTEN 

     III.  Crys y Mab (The Young Man’s Shirt) LISTEN  LISTEN


1st perf: Joanne Thomas (mezzo), Ingrid Surgenor (pf), Fishguard Festival, Fishguard, Wales,  21 July 2001;  1st broadcast perf: same performers, 24 August 2001 (BBC Radio 3) 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref Y183

CWMDONKIN  SONGS (2023) (Dylan Thomas) c. 10' 

high voice and piano 

1. For as long as forever is

2. The Clown in the Moon

3. Mr Waldo's Song

1st perf: Chris O'Gorman (tenor), David Pipe (pf), Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, York, 4 Nov, 2023.    (Part of Dylan Thomas Project, York Late Music)

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2024

CWMDONKIN  SONGS (2023) (Dylan Thomas) c. 10' 

medium voice and piano 

1. For as long as forever is

2. The Clown in the Moon

3. Mr Waldo's Song

 Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2024

FLOWING SAND, THE  (2006) (Samuel Beckett) 15' 

baritone and piano 

Commissioned by Cardiff University with funds from the Arts Council of Wales

     I.  what would I do LISTEN 

     II.  my way is in the sand  LISTEN 

     III. Da Tagte Es   LISTEN    

     IV. Roundelay  LISTEN

     V. saying again LISTEN


1st perf: Adam Green (bar), Indre Petrauskaite (pf), Temple of Peace, Cardiff, 9 March 2006. (Opening concert, Beckett/Proust/Deleuze conference, School of European Studies, Cardiff University) 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref Y230 


As always with Rhian Samuel’s music there is great craftsmanship and powerful rhetoric in both the vocal line and piano writing . . . I am drawn to the still centre of the group, a song just one page long, ‘Da Tagte es’. With its austere  piano texture at beginning and end, and rapid ignition of passion in the middle, it could feel too extreme, but it doesn’t  – instead the simplicity of means is haunting and the writing is supremely effective.

                        Sue Anderson, Singing, Winter 2006


GAZE, THE  (2013) (Shakespeare) c.6' LISTEN

soprano and piano
Commissioned by Caroline Macphie for the CD Love said to me’, Stone Records

1st perf: Caroline MacPhie, sop, Joseph Middleton, pf, 22 Mansfield Street, London, 9 December, 2013; 1st USA perf: Patricia Goble (sop), Russell Hirshfield (pf) Wheeler Concert Hall, Casper Comm. College, Wyoming, USA,1 March, 2015.

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2015



soprano and piano 
First prize, 1978 Forum for Composers, St Louis, Missouri, USA 

Text translated by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite  

1st USA perf: Carole Gaspar (sop), Christine Smith (pf), Forest Park College, St Louis, Missouri, 28 March 1978. 1st UK perf: Kym Amps (soprano), Simon Nicholls (pf), Reading University, 1 May, 1993.  

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, S&B ref  H412 


Subtitled, ‘Narrative, Threnody and Envoi’,  this is really a miniature cantata. . . . It sits very comfortably in the soprano voice, but a flexible mezzo would also be suitable: the one high note is so well set that it is unlikely to fail.  The composer manages to incorporate spoken and Sprechstimme passages within the natural inflections of the wide-ranging phrases, and the whole piece sparkles with vitality and spontaneity. The clear-textured piano part underlines and illustrates the story, and balance between voice and piano is ideal. . . .The ‘Threnody’ and ‘Envoi’ are contrasting miniature arias, the first full of virtuoso display, and the latter a tender and poetical resolution.

               Jane Manning, New Vocal Repertory, Volume 2, 1998.

Samuel has invented a magical atmosphere through angular vocal lines that switch from singing to speaking. . . . Enjoy singing this short work, while having fun telling the story. The audience will be mesmerised if the singer is totally immersed in the telling of the tale.     

               Sharon Mabry, NATS Journal (USA), September/October 2000               


The Hare in the Moon draws on a translation of a poetic Japanese narrative with sacrifice at its heart. For the composer, an avowed concern was the relationship between speech, recitative and pure lyricism. The piece is, however, rather more than a technical exercise, the climactic threnody and final elegy achieving real eloquence.                 

                   Peter Palmer, Tempo 62 (244), 77


[The Hare in the Moon] mixed narration with dramatic coloratura passages in a delightful account of a Japanese folk tale. 

                       Simon Collings, The Oxford Times, 14 April 2010

IN THE HALL OF MIRRORS (1985) (James Merrill) c.8'

medium voice and piano

Commissioned by Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, for James Merrill Symposium, 1985) 

1st perf:  Mary Henderson, soprano, Seth Carlin, piano, Steinberg Hall Washington Univ, St Louis, MO, USA, 26 April, 1985; 1st broadcast perf: Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano, Patsy Wade, piano, National Public Radio, USA. 22 April, 1986; 1st UK perf: Mary King, soprano, Andrew Ball, piano, St John's Smith Square, London, 14 January, 1987.

Copies available from the composer.  


[Samuel] had devised a shapely musical form for the verse that both drew out its sense and made a smooth musical sequence. I can imagine her applying that elegant knack to literary or dramatic material on a grander scale. . . .            

                       David Murray, Financial Times, 16 January, 1987

MOON AND BIRDS (2011) A.Stevenson & E. Dickinson) 11'

medium voice and piano 

(See also version for medium voice and small ensemble) 


      I.   Blackbird (Anne Stevenson)                      

      II.  The moon is distant (Emily Dickinson)  

      III.  Bird in hand (Anne Stevenson)

      IV.  On not being able to look at the moon (Anne Stevenson)


Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref Y291 


MOON AND I, THE (2019) (Tabitha Hayward and Anne Stevenson)  15'

medium voice and piano

Commissioned by the Ludlow English Song Weekend


      1. Moonrise (Anne Stevenson) LISTEN 

      2. Philomela (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN

      3. The Moon (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN

      4. The Moon and I (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN


1st perf. Kathryn Rudge, mezzo, Iain Burnside, piano. St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow, UK, 30 October, 2021

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2020


MOON OVER MAENEFA (2020) (Gerard Manley Hopkins) LISTEN   LISTEN  

solo baritone

1st perf. Marcus Dawson, baritone, Angela Burgess Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London

31 March, 2021.  

RAM 200th Anniversary celebrations

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2021 

NANTCOL SONGS (2003) (Anne Stevenson) 9'

medium/high voice and piano

Commissioned by the Presteigne Festival 

       I. The Wind, the Sun and the Moon 
       II. A Perfect View LISTEN 


1st perf, 'A Perfect View': Gillian Keith (sop), Simon Lepper (pf), St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne, 25 August 2003.  ‘A Garland for Presteigne’, celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Presteigne Festival. 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, S&B ref  Y213


. . . Rhian Samuel’s colourful and appropriately angular portrayal of a Snowdonian peak in ‘A Perfect View’. . . 

                        David Hart, The Birmingham Post, 27 August 2003


SONGS OF EARTH AND AIR (1983, rev. 2002) 25' 

[new edition, 2021]

medium voice and piano 

      I.   April Rise (Laurie Lee)   LISTEN

      II.  The Kingfisher (W. H. Davies) LISTEN 

      III.  Snowdrop (Jon Silkin)  LISTEN

      IV.  A Warm Rain (Kenneth Leslie)  LISTEN


1st perf, I & II: Edmund LeRoy (bar), Kirt Pavitt (pf), St Louis Conservatory of Music, St Louis, Missouri, USA, 27 Feb 1983; 1st perf, complete cycle: Sharon Mabry (mezzo), Patsy Wade (pf), King’s College, London, 4 Oct 1984. 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.    Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref Y204, Y205, Y206 and Y207 


The texts are set with great sensitivity . . . the organisation of musical materials is always in the service of the text, never abstracted from it. . . . Miss Samuel has resolved the age-old dilemma of the text-singer-accompaniment relationship by creating a keyboard part which is not so much an accompaniment as an instrumental commentary on the text. 

                              Michael Beckerman, St Louis Globe-Democrat, 1 March 1983


SPRING DIARY (2010) (Anne Stevenson)  13' 

baritone and piano 

      I.  Arrival Dream  LISTEN  LISTEN

      II.  Snow Squalls  LISTEN   LISTEN

      III. It Happens     LISTEN    LISTEN

      IV. East Wind       LISTEN    LISTEN

      V. A Clearer Memory  LISTEN   LISTEN   


1st perf: Jonathan Sells (bar), Ja Yeon Kang (pf), City University, London, 5 Feb. 2010 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase,  S&B ref  Y272

SUMMER SONGS (2012) c.7'

 medium/high voice and piano 

     I.  In Summer (Denise Levertov)   LISTEN  LISTEN

    II.  A Dragonfly in the Sun (Zulfikar Ghose)  LISTEN   LISTEN 


1st perf: James Gilchrist (ten), William Vann (pf), The Forge, Camden Town, London, 10 May 2012 (London English Song Festival) 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.  S&B ref  Y297

Rhian Samuel’s Summer Songs are close-textured and chromatic evocations of night and a dragonfly in the sun. These vivid settings brought tonal freshness before Frauenliebe und -leben.                   

                            Amanda-Jane Doran, Classical Source. 26 Feb, 2019


Centuries on [after Clara Schumann’s ‘Liebst du um Schonheit’], Rhian Samuel’s beautiful Summer Songs with musings on sunshine and a flitting, darting dragonfly provided stark contrast to the more soothingly lyrical offerings.   

                            Eileen Caiger Gray, Mature Times, 28 Feb, 2019


SWIFT RADIANT MORNING, A  (2015) (Charles Hamilton Sorley) c.17'

baritone and piano 
Commissioned by the 2015 Three Choirs Festival 

      I.  Rooks  LISTEN   LISTEN

      II.  The Sounds of War  LISTEN  LISTEN

      III. The Signpost  LISTEN    LISTEN   

      IV. In Memoriam   LISTEN   LISTEN

       V. Earth’s King   LISTEN   LISTEN


1st perf: Roderick Williams (baritone), Susie Allan (piano), Holy Trinity Church, Hereford, 25 July 2015 (Three Choirs Festival); 1st broadcast: BBC Radio 3, same perfs, 28 July, 2015.

Pub.  Stainer & Bell. Copies available for purchase, ref  S&B Y329 


The highlight was A Swift Radiant Morning, five settings of Charles Sorley by Rhian Samuel, a festival commission of great originality which calls for semi-spoken or even shouted effects from the soloist. They were written with Williams in mind, and Samuel’s oblique harmonies plus the explosive evocation of war by this young poet who died at Loos in 1915, aged 20, made a universal impression.                    

                    Roderic Dunnett, bachtrack.com, August 2015


Samuel set the text in an intensely dramatic fashion and her music was graphically performed by Williams and Allan. . .  The music seemed to me, at a first hearing, to be a gripping and moving response to the words. 

                    John Quinn, seenandheard-international.com, July 2015 

A Swift Radiant Morning is a well-crafted, sensitive work that deserves attention.

                     Anne Ozorio, Classical Iconoclast, 9 June, 2016


WHITE AMARYLLIS, THE (1991) (May Sarton)  23' 

medium/high voice and piano

       I. Celebration  LISTEN   LISTEN  LISTEN

       II. The Snow Light LISTEN   LISTEN   LISTEN

       III. Before Dawn LISTEN   LISTEN  LISTEN 


1st perf: Sharon Mabry (mezzo), Patsy Wade (pf), Austin Peay University, Clarksville, Tennessee, USA, 17 October 1991.

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, S&B ref  AC162

WILDFLOWER SONGBOOK, A  (May, 2014) (Anne Stevenson) 19'

Three songs for mezzo-soprano and piano
Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust for the Oxford Lieder Festival

       1. Naming the Flowers LISTEN  

       2. Rosebay Ballad  LISTEN

       3. Digitalis  LISTEN   

1st perf: Anna Stéphany, mezzo, Sholto Kynoch, pf, Holywell Music Room, Oxford (Oxford Lieder Festival) 29 October, 2015; 1st broadcast perf: BBC Radio 3, same performers, 6 Sept 2016. 

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2016