RM Williams Publishing

Featuring music for Horn and Horn in chamber music

Mother Goose Tales

by (b. 1948)

for horn, piano and narrator


About the Work

Mother Goose Tales owes its existence to a student of mine, Michelle Hascall, who was in need of one more piece for her recital, with the restriction that it be something for children with an instrumentation of horn, piano, and narrator. Since I had just finished a one-year stint as a Saturday-morning storyteller in a children’s bookshop, and a five-year stint as a bedtime storytelling father, the idea of setting some nursery rhymes to fill the bill came to mind immediately. There are a huge number of Mother Goose rhymes, some very well known, many much less familiar. I chose some of both types—‌eight in all — selected for variety, humor, musical possibilities and rhythm. The order of the movements was determined by Michelle.


  1. Wee Willie Winkie
  2. Three Wise Men from Gotham
  3. Dance to Your Daddy
  4. Dr. Fell
  5. Monday’s Child
  6. Two Cats of Kilkenny
  7. The Man in the Wilderness
  8. Little Miss Muffett

About the Composer

Jeffrey Agrell joined the The University of Iowa School of Music faculty as professor of horn in 2000 after a 25-year career as Associate Principal horn in the Lucerne (Switzerland) Symphony. Besides teaching horn, he currently directs the UI Horn Choir, teaches Introduction to Improvisation, and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet, and the contemporary classical improvising ensembles Duende (horn, cello, piano), and Cerberus (horn, trumpet, tuba).

Since returning to the United States, he has been very active as a guest artist and clinician, performing and giving workshops and presentations at regional, national, and international workshops, festivals, and conferences. Outside of the university, Agrell is on the faculties of the Asian Youth Orchestra (Hong Kong) and the Kendall Betts Horn Camp and is member of the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society. He has performed and recorded with Confluence, the professional New York horn ensemble, and has performed with the New York-based Walter Thompson Soundpainting Orchestra.

Besides performing, Jeffrey Agrell has always been very interested in the creative process as evidenced in his long-time activities as an award-winning writer and composer. He began composing and arranging during his college years. Since about 1990 he has had a steady stream of commissions from professional chamber music ensembles, and has won several composition prizes. Agrell’s works have appeared on CD and have been broadcast on radio and television nationally and internationally. Many of his works have been published and performed at contests and festivals. He is a member of ASCAP and SUISA, the American and Swiss composers’ rights societies.

Most recently he has been very active in bringing new approaches to improvisation to classical musicians, giving a unique semester course in improvisation as well as clinics and workshops. He is also a Soundpainting conductor (Soundpainting is a gestural system of improvisation for groups), having studied with its inventor, Walter Thompson. Jeffrey Agrell’s recent CD is entitled Repercussions, music for horn and piano that features pieces with a unique integration of written material and spontaneous improvisation.