For Children


Cantata in popular style for unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 21'.

Commissioned by Thanet Schools Music Association and first performed 24 March 1981 at the Winter Gardens, Margate, conducted by Robert Weaver.

A typically lively and slightly irreverend presentation of the familiar episode from the Book of Genesis. It includes the delightful private joke about Adam and Eve singing tunes by Parry and Stanford to while away their time in the garden.

The composer's relaxed approach to performing methods and conditions is evident from the notes:

Anyone wishing to present this cantata in a dramatic or semi-staged way may find it sensible to allocate certain numbers, or sections thereof, to soloists (with the chorus joining, perhaps, at convenient moments). Exactly how this is done, and to what degree, must depend on local circumstances, but as a method of presentation it has my blessing. Similarly, the judicious use of drum kit and double bass is to be encouraged.


An "eighteenth century pop cantata". 18'. Narrator, unison voices and piano.

Commissioned by the Heritage Education Trust and sponsored by British Leisure Publications.

Preview at Dulwich Private Gallery. First performed at Banqueting House, Whitehall on 12 November 1987.

Celebrating the life and charitable work of Captain Thomas Coram with the establishment of the Foundling Hospital in 1741.

Details of the world premiere CD recording by the New London Children's Choir under Ronald Corp may be found here or at the Choir's own site, here.


Unison voices S(S)A and piano. Words by Robert Herrick.

Commissioned for and first performed by the Downs School, Malvern 12 July 1969 under the direction of John Melvin.

1: Invocation
2: First Charm
3: Second Charm
4: Spring Ceremony
5: The Peter Penny
6: Christmas Ceremony
7: Third Charm
8: Fourth Charm
9: Benediction


The original intention in writing Charms and Ceremonies was to provide a work that would involve a small group of singers, capable of tackling music in parts, and a larger body with time and talent only for unison singing. The four Charms therefore make greater demands than the five Ceremonies.

Ideally then a division into chorus and semi-chorus should be made when performing this work, though this division is by no means essential. A further change of texture could be effected by giving The Peter Penny to a soloist.

The piano accompaniment should always be played in an "orchestral" manner. For example, certain figures in the Invocation and Benediction may suggest the sound of trumpets while the rumbling basses of the First Charm and the Christmas Ceremony can, by judicious use of the sustaining pedal, be made the equivalent of the blurred shimmer of cellos.


Five pieces for group music making. Choir, recorders & percussion.

Commissioned by Major A Clarke-Jervois DL JP, for performance at Petersfield Music Festival in March 1970.

Descant recorders, glockenspiel/chime bars, xylophone, side drum
Triangle, tambourine, unison voices, piano.

1: There was a naughty boy (Keats)
2: The man in the wilderness (anon)
3: Willie had a purple monkey (Adeler)
4: If all the world were paper
5: Hey nonny no! (anon)


An "oratorio" for narrator (tenor), chorus (high and low voices) and piano. 30'. Words by Michael Blom.

Commissioned and first performed by Michael Crabb and the Southend Boys' Choir, 15 March 1975 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Michael Hurd left at his death a substantial collection of memorabilia from the era of Nelson's navy - scrimshaw pieces, prisoner-of-war ivory sets, busts of the admiral, prints of the funeral procession and autographs. A personal enthusiasm for naval history and tradition inspired many of his works, both written and musical, and this immensely popular "oratorio" marks one of the high points in his career.

Calypso, waltz and "cockney blarney" all play their part in a work steeped in the composer's intimate knowledge of the sailor's musical tradition. In one of his few collaborations, Michael Blom's witty and succinct libretto evidences a true meeting of minds.

COMPOSER'S NOTE: Though ideally the narrator's part should be sung by a tenor, and in an exaggerated oratorio style, it may in cases of emergency be divided appropriately between soprano and alto soloists, or even spoken. In the latter case, the speaker should retain the rhythms as written.


Cantata-musical for unison voices and piano. 10'. "For Margaret".

First performance by Eric J Jones and the boys of Bexley-Erith Technical High School, December 1966.

"They sell in alarming quantities and thus make it possible for me to live in modest comfort as a freelance composer and author." Thus Michael Hurd, reflecting on the enduring popularity of his pop cantatas, of which Jonah-Man Jazz was the first - and by far the runaway best-seller.

Writing his own libretto, drawn from the familiar bible episode from the Old Testament, the composer gives himself full rein to enjoy outrageous rhymes ("I will smite 'em, Ad infinitum") and deft allusion ("Jonah had a whale of a time"). The music, pastiche in style yet instantly memorable, stays in the mind once heard, which was the composer's own definition of a successful melody. In these less reverential days, the faintly naughty thrill of such lines as "the Lord he said:'Well, this ain't right'" might be missed but as an antidote to what Michael described as "an endless diet of part-songs about flowers" this sort of music for young performers and their teachers must have been a very refreshing breeze indeed.

COMPOSER'S NOTE: I hope that performers will adopt the free-and-easy style usually associated with "pop" in its various forms, and not stand too much in awe of the notes as printed. There would seem to be no reason why any suitable group of jazz instruments should not use the piano score as a basis for improvisation.

Above all, there is no point in approaching the work in any other spirit than the determination to have fun. If so moved, let hands clap, fingers click and voices add yelps of encouragement.

Details of new CD recording by the New London Children's Choir under Ronald Corp may be found here or at the Choir's own site, here.


Ballad cantata for narrator, unison voices and piano. 21'.

Commissioned by the Heritage Education Trust, with financial assistance from the Headley Trust and the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.

First performance in the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral, 9 July 1990, by the Choristers of the Cathedral, conducted by David Flood.

Full score and parts for flute, oboe, bassoon and strings as used at the first performance available.


The ill-fated friendship between Henry Plantagenet and Thomas Becket forms the basis of Michael Hurd's Ballad Cantata on one of the most momentous clashed between church and state in English history.

With his customary melodic skill and literary clarity, the composer provides a very direct and immediately appealing account of the evnts that led to Becket's martyrdom at Canterbury in 1170.

"King and Conscience" is designed specifically to provide a starting point for further creativity in primary and mkiddle schools. Performable as a stage or concert piece, the cantata can provide the basis for original work in art, design, dance, drama, history, environmental and English literary studies.

This is the second of a series of cantatas drawing respectively on the civil, ecclesiastical and industrial heritage of buildings of great historical significance. Like "The Liberty Tree", "Mr Owen's Great Endeavour" and "Captain Coram's Kids", "King and Conscience" will stimulate and entertain in equal measures.


Ballad cantata for narrator, unison voices and piano. 32'.

Commissioned by the Heritage Education Trust with financial assistance from the Headley Trust and the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.

First performance at Derngate Theatre, Northampton on Sunday 5 November 1989 as part of Northamptonshire County Council's centenary celebrations.

Full score and parts for flute, oboe, bassoon and strings as used at the first performance available.


Michael Hurd has taken as the subject for his ballad cantata one of the most turbulent periods in British history. The confrontation between Charles I and Parliament in 1642, the ensuing Civil War, execution of the King, Cromwell's Protectorate, and the eventual restoration of the monarchy, are brilliantly encapsulated in a 30-minute work.


Nautical opera for children. 30'. From the verses by William Makepeace Thackeray.

First performance March 1964 at Brightlands School, Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire, directed by Geoffrey Peck.

Little Billy, First Mate, Gorging Jack, Guzzling Jim, bosun (spoken), sailors and girls. Portsmouth Point c.1850.

The first of the composer's musical voyages through England's naval tradition (see also Hip Hip Horatio, Shore Leave, Sea and Shore Songs &c). Tongue firmly in cheek and with more than a nod to the musical world of HMS Pinafore, this slice of Victorian melodrama will "stretch performers without breaking them", in the composer's own words.

Little Billy, rations gone and all at sea with the desperadoes Guzzling Jim and Gorging Jack, is facing a cannibalistic end when the Royal Navy, hip hip, three cheers, arrives to rescue him.

Geoffrey Peck notes: "Brightlands ... was not a school which had any kind of musical or dramatic tradition, so mounting Michael's opera was a big undertaking. However, we persevered, encouraged by the promise of an appearance by the composer in person later on."

In was in precisely this sort of tradition that Michael went on to produce many successful works for schools. His thoughts on the process and problems can be found here.


Junior string orchestra. 7'30".

Commissioned by Melbourne Youth Music Council, first performed 18 June 1983, Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University. Conducted by Joseph Hopkins.

1: Prelude
2: Waltz
3: Chorale
4: March


Children's voices. Soloists (3 tr), chorus TrTr, recorder/2perc/piano. 15'.


Cover design by Malcolm Harvey Young based
on pictures reproduced by kind permission
of New Lanark Conservation (Robert Owen)
and the Mansell Collection (New Lanark
School, engraving by Hunt)

Ballad cantata for narrator, unison voices and piano. 19'.

Commissioned by the Heritage Education Trust with financial assistance from the Headley Trust and the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.

First performance New Lanark Mills, 11 April 1991.

Full score and parts for flute, oboe, bassoon and strings as used at the first performance available.

Originally entitled Mr Owen's Maggot and from the cycle that includes The Liberty Tree, King and Conscience and Captain Coram's Kids.


Tracing the historical transformation of Britain from an agrarian to an industrial society, the composer highlights the enlightened experiment in welfare and education of the owner of the great cotton mill at New Lanark.

For details of the world premiere recording of this work by George Vass click here.


An operatic entertainment for young people.

See under Opera.


Cantata for unison voices with divisions and piano. 19'.

Words by the composer, with narration drawn from the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Commissioned for and first performance by the Choristers of Leeds Parish Church, director Simon Lindley, Civic Hall Leeds on 19 January 1987.


Songs for unison and two-part voices with piano. 13'. Words from The Faber Book of Children's Verse and Verse and Worse.

Commissioned by the Bromley Boy Singers with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain.

First performed by them at the Purcell Room, London, on 30 April 1981.

The set is similar in many way to Britten's Friday Afternoons both in concept and in the way it combines inspiring texts with diverse musical settings.

1: Monday's child is fair of face
2: Here lies a poor woman
3: This is the key of the kingdom
4: The horse and mule live thirty years
5: There were three sisters
6: I saw a peacock
7: There was a Presbyterian cat
8: A man of words and not of deeds
9: An author owned an asterisk

Details of a recording of this work by the Bromley Boy Singers can be found here.


A musical morality in modern style for narrator, unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 18'.

Words by the composer, based and incorporating text from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Commissioned by the Bedfordshire Education Committee to mark the tercentenary of the publication of Pilgrim's Progress.

First performances given by Robert Bloomfield Middle School, Shefford, the Abbey Middle School, Bedford and the Sandye Place Middle School, Sandy in March 1978.

Another of Michael Hurd's successful presentations of historical material with a modern, jazz-style feel to accessible yet challenging music for young performers. The narrator's words are straight Bunyan, contrasting most effectively with the sung lyrics.


Pop cantata for unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 14'

Commissioned by the Combined Schools of Bridlington Choral Festival, sponsored by the Lords feofees and Assistants of the Mayor of Bridlington.

First performance on 4 July 1998.


Cantata in popular style for unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 14'.

Commissioned by South Australian Public Schools Music Society for the 1989 Festival of Music, Adelaide. 4-12 September 1989

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The popular story of the Prodigal Son is given fresh meaning and relevance in Michael Hurd's memorable cantata.

Details of a new CD recording by the New London Children's Choir under Ronald Corp may be found here or at the Choir's own site, here.


Cantata in popular style for narrator, unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 13'.

Commissioned by the Cookham Festival, first performance 2 May 1975 at the Pinder Hall, Cookham. "For Sara Wood and the Cookham Children".

Chaucer's version of the story of Chanticleer and Pertelote - the wily fox and the gullible rooster - might seem an unlikely source for a work for children. However, with the composer's hallmarks of witty, deft lyrics and catchy pastiche music this piece has proved a great success.

The first performance was actually presented as a stage event and in this regard it works remarkably well. As ever, the composer gives his blessing to whatever appropriate adjustments to forces and style may be required - as he said on more than one occasion, "The thing is to enjoy it."

Details of a new CD recording by the New London Children's Choir under Ronald Corp may be found here or at the Choir's own site, here.


Unison voices and piano. 6'. Five settings of poems from Figgie Hobbin by Charles Causley.

1: Round the town
2: My mother saw a dancing bear
3: A fox came into my garden
4: Old Mrs Thing-um-e-bob
5:I saw a jolly hunter

Composer and poet sustained a lively correspondence and friendship over many years. Shore Leave (qv) is also a product of their artistic synergy.


School songs. Words by Walter de la Mare.

1: As we sailed out of London river
2: The Silver Penny
3: Old Tilly Turveycombe sat to sew

Michael Hurd's first published music. See also next entry.

COMPOSER'S NOTE: "... in the meantime I had found a publisher, again by accident. I had become accustomed to rejection slips, but having seemed a couple of practical unison songs I decided to save time by sending them to three different publishers at the same time - Novello, Boosey & Hawkes and Curwen, confidently expecting that they would come back with the usual rejection.

Alas, within a week, all three had accepted them ! Abject apologies to Boosey & Hawkes and Curwen, who were not pleased. But it was the beginning of a relationship with Novello which has lasted very happily and to our mutual benefit."


For mainly unison voices and piano. 22'. Words by Walter de la Mare.

Includes revised versions of two of the above set.

1: The Silver Penny
2: The Old Sailor
3: Araby
4: The Picture
5: London River

6: Tillie
7: Mr Punch
8: The Guy
9: King David

COMPOSER'S NOTE: This collection brings together all my settings of de la Mare's poems under one cover. The five songs that were published in 1963 (Novello SS2078 & 2079) have now been completely revised. Though not withdrawn, the old versions cannot be used in conjunction with the new.

There are five Sea Songs and four Shore Songs in this collection. They can be sung as two independent suites, or as one large one. There is no reason why individual items should not be taken from both, according to taste.


Sailor songs and shanties. 25'. Music arranged by Michael Hurd.

Junior Music Series D 1-9, ed Iain Kendall
pub J & W Chester, London

Later version published by Allans, Melbourne.

These editions provide practical classroom work, drawing on Michael Hurd's knowledge of the topic as explored in his book Sailors' Songs and Shanties qv.


School songs, unison and piano. 5'. Published 1996.

1: Winter Song
2: River Song
3: The Walnut Tree
4: Black Clouds
5: The School Bell

COMPOSER'S NOTE: The first two songs of this collection were written as part of a Carclew Youth Performing Arts "Artists in Schools" scheme, when I spent two happy weeks with the pupils of Waikere Primary School, South Australia.

The other songs were written when the pupils of Sheet County Primary School, near my home in Hampshire, wished to celebrate their school's centenary. As this coincided with Australia's bicentenary, it seemed a very pleasant idea to establish links between these two very similar schools.

The words of all five songs are the result of a complicated, but very enjoyable collaboration between the composer and the pupils - so that it is now impossible to say who wrote what!


Cantata in popular style for unison voices (with divisions) and piano. 10'.

Dedicated to and first performance by the Southend Boys Choir.

Drawing on the well-known episode in the Book of Judges, this justifiably popular work includes some typical touches - an acidly witty barber's shop scene and Samson bringing the temple crashing down to the rhythms of a western square dance.

COMPOSER'S NOTE: Like my "Jonah-Man Jazz", this work was written for fun and should be performed with this spirit in mind. How you perform it must, of course, depend on local circumstances; but although the pianist part is quite sufficient, a new dimension can be added by the judicious use of jazz percussion and double bass.

Authorised drum and bass parts, to be use din conjunction with the piano score, are available from the publisher.

The audience participation song (No 5) raises, perhaps, some problems; but I believe that if they can read the words clearly, the average audience will be able to pick up the tune from cold. You could, of course, play safe and teach it to them before the performance, but I do not really recommend this.

The choir for whom the work was written made an LP recording, details here.

Details of a new CD recording by the New London Children's Choir under Ronald Corp may be found here or at the Choir's own site, here.