The Hornblower Suite was written after reading the series of books by C. S. Forrester. My good friend, Leslie Ann Tulloch, has a great affection for the books as well, so this programmatic piano piece was written for and dedicated to her.
The work is broken into five movements.
- Horatio Hornblower: this is written simply to introduce the British sailor of the same name.
- Beat to Quarters!: refers to readying the ship for war – the drummer would be ordered to beat “to quarters.”
- Maria: Hornblower’s first wife, whom he did not truly love but married because he did not want to break her heart by telling her that he didn’t love her; she eventually dies.
- And Now for Something Completely Different: is a multifaceted and subtle (or not so subtle) joke referencing British culture. This fugue is stuck into an otherwise programmatic piece about Hornblower. The title refers to the comedy group, Monty Python, which would insert short, off-topic comical sketches, introduced by saying “And now for something completely different.”
- Mr. Bush: a musical picture of Hornblower’s first mate, Mr. Bush.
- Rendering Honours: refers to two ships passing and playing the each other’s national anthem. In this case, the British national anthem is played, God Save the Queen (the tune of which is familiar to most American’s as My Country, ‘Tis of Thee).