Roderick Elms Music

Composer, pianist and organist

Roderick Elms

Roderick Elms is a pianist and organist working both as a soloist and a principal keyboard player with orchestras in London and across the UK.
He is also an established composer and arranger, and his works are performed across the UK, North America and elsewhere.
On this site you will find details of his music, performances and recordings, some of which are available in the shop. The player below cycles through some of his performances and compositions.

New symphony

Roderick Elms’ new symphony, Visions of St Anne‘ will be recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra in September and conducted by Barry Wordsworth. The CD will be issued as a tribute to the late Bramwell Tovey – the orchestra’s greatly loved principal conductor, who passed away in July 2022. The CD will also include pieces for guitar and orchestra with the distinguished guitarist Carlos Bonell and De profundis, a new concertino for bass clarinet to be recorded by the orchestra’s own Derek Hannigan. The CD closes with Paper Dances for piano duet and orchestra, to be recorded by the composer and his wife, Joanna Smith.

Photo: Bramwell Tovey with Joanna Smith and Roderick Elms – Repton, 2017

A Windy Christmas

New festive CD with The Joyful Company of Singers, The Aurora Ensemble, Chaconne Brass, Illumina Duo, Richard Moore (organ), John Anderson (oboe), Joanna Smith (piano) and conductor, Bramwell Tovey.
New pieces for trumpet, wind quintet, oboe and brass quintet.
Wind-based instrumentation is very much the feature of this new album. For full details click here

Ongar Music Club

A personal History by Roderick Elms

This book chronicles the remarkable story of Ongar Music Club from the lounges and record players of this market town in Essex, to fully-fledged public performances, given by many of the worlds most distinguished musicians, including Lord Yehudi Menuhin, John Lill CBE, Sir Peter Pears, Dame Janet Baker, Benjamin Grosvenor, Stephen Isserlis and Dame Eva Turner. 

The club founded the prestigious Essex Young Musician of the Year competition in 1984, and in 1986, it formed a jazz section, which now runs independently and is one of the most respected jazz clubs in the country, having presented many of the great names from the world of jazz such as Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk, Maxine Daniels, Digby Fairweather, Cy Laurie, Humphrey Lyttleton and Ronnie Scott.

The book includes a foreword by Ongar Music Club’s esteemed president John Lill CBE who looks back at his close relationship with the club.

Roderick Elms history of Ongar Music Club is available from this site at the introductory price of £13.50 + carriage.

Full details here

Just a Little From the Top

AVAILABLE NOW – Roderick Elms’ memoirs. These have been a long time coming and were prompted by great encouragement from the writer’s colleagues and friends. 

ALED JONES writes – “A truly enjoyable account of Roderick Elms’ life in music, peppered with stories, from the hilarious to the educational! This lively account of the life and times of a valued friend includes plenty of entertaining anecdotes, plus details of musical mishaps and triumphs along the way. A great read for anyone interested in the workings of today’s classical music world.”

‘Just a Little From the Top’ is available from this site at the introductory price of £16.95.

Full details here

Facebook Page

You can keep updated with news about Roderick Elms’ music on Facebook. Follow the link to like his Facebook page! Click here

Three ‘Baroque’ Carols

Vocal scores are now available for this set of arrangements for SATB choir and brass quintet (or keyboard/chamber orchestra).
The carols are Past three o’clock, Wexford Carol and Deck the hall.
Samples from the recordings with The Joyful company of Singers, Chaconne Brass and conductor, Bramwell Tovey are available here.
Available NOW from usual outlets or direct from

YouTube Channel

Videos of Roderick Elms’ music are available on his YouTube channel. Please take a look and subscribe if you like it! Click here


See a selection of publications here.



See a selection of recordings here.


Main image — ‘When dreams come true’ by Leonid Afremov <>

By their very nature, organs have the power to excite, but the only real demands of playing this exciting chord are making sure the organ is still turned on, pulling out some stops, waiting for the previous section to finish, getting a nod from the conductor, and playing the chord. Contrary to what might be thought, there's absolutely no necessity to count the hundreds of preceding bars in which you don't play! This wonderful moment is actually marked to be played just forte (loud) – not very loud, not as loud as possible, and certainly not full organ. Playing at the indicated volume produces the required dramatic contrast with the extended and extremely quiet section that precedes it. However, some conductors and promoters routinely attempt to insist on this being played as loudly as possible. To do so is totally unnecessary; it's not what the composer asked for and shows the organist's hand ahead of the tumultuous ending of the work, complete with trumpets and timpani, therefore allowing no further excitement to be summoned from the organ.

Many of the available recordings are balanced to perpetuate the impression of the organ as a solo instrument, while others, notably Simon Preston with the Berlin Philharmonic, keep the instrument as an appropriate feature of the symphonic texture.

To think of this symphony broadly in respect of just one chord and the ensuing rumbustious section of this great piece, would be to do it a great disservice. For many, the second, slow section of the first movement is the jewel in the work's symphonic crown (the work is actually in two movements, each with two sub-movements). This slow 'movement' opens with the first and very quiet entry of the organ, providing a bedrock for the exquisite theme played by the violins. The organ plays just a textural and accompanying role throughout.

The second movement opens with a scherzo-like section, and this provides some fireworks for the orchestral concertante pianist. This part can be significantly more demanding than that for the organ, especially when the conductor decides to go rogue in the middle of the virtuosic scale passages! A particular pleasure afforded to the pianist is the camaraderie of a second pianist who joins him at the start of the finale to play a little tinkling piano duet – a most beautiful moment reminiscent of  The Aquarium movement from Saint–Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals. The second pianist's presence also affords some welcome company during the frequently slow progress of first-movement rehearsals, which can offer particular orchestral challenges, especially if an inappropriate tempo is set.

There are symphonic and choral works which have significantly more visible and challenging organ parts – you only have to look at the near virtuosic demands of the organ writing in parts of the first movement of Mahler's 8th Symphony, for example. However, this is not in any way to detract from the beauty and emotional power of this symphony, which displays all the wonderfully crafted features which would be expected from Saint-Saëns. Beyond 'the chord', the work's popularity and immediate appeal are a testament to the composer's innate craftsmanship.

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