About the Piece

Suite From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1989) 16 min. A suite of five movements based on the Medieval legend, commissioned by the Regina Symphony Chamber Players. Rescored in a second version for full orchestra for the Regina Symphony Orchestra. CMC

I. Banquet hall [4’45”]
II. Seduction [3’35”]
III. Hunt [5’12”]
IV. Gawain’s dilemma [3’08”]
V. Banquet hall (reprise) [2′ 20″]

(please note: the movements may be performed individually)

Program note:

The music for this suite is based on the epic Medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.. The story opens in the Banquet Hall of King Arthur where all are making merry when suddenly the Green Knight, bathed in a glow of green light, makes his appearance. He challenges any of the Knights to a “game,” and Sir Gawain, not wanting to appear a coward, takes him up on the challenge.

The game is for one of the players to strike a blow to the other after which the first player must endure a similar blow. Sir Gawain, thinking himself very clever, fulfills his part of the game by chopping off the head of the Green Knight, assuming that will end the play and he will be the winner. To his horror, the Green Knight simply picks up his severed head and informs Sir Gawain that it is now his turn. However, he thoughtfully allows Gawain a year’s leeway before the game is resumed and tells him to come to the “Green Chapel” to in one year’s time where he will receive his blow.

The second movement, Seduction, takes place after Gawain has found the Green Chapel, but has a few days left, so he becomes the guest of Lord Bercilak. His wife, Lady Bercilak, tries unsuccessfully to seduce Gawain who resists because it would not follow the moral code of a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table.

The third movement, Hunt,” is symbolic of the inner feelings of Gawain who, in spite of his resistance, is lustful for the Lady.

The fourth movement, Gawain’s Dilemma, comes about because Lady Bercilak gives him a green garter which she says will protect him from harm. He accepts the garter, and although he has earlier made an agreement with Lord Bercilak that he will give him anything he obtains during the day at the castle, he refrains from handing over the green garter that he thinks will save his life. The dilemma is that he feels terribly guilty but he wants to live.

Soon after, he meets the Green knight who actually tuns out to be Lord Bercilak! When he strikes his blow, he barely taps Gawain with his ax, merely nicking his neck and thus spares his life, but Gawain is shamed by his dishonesty in breaking his word by keeping the garter.

The final scene is his return to King Arthur’s court and the Banquet Hall.

[Program note by the composer]


2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo)
2 oboes
2 clarinets
2 bassoons
4 horns
2 trumpets
3 trombones
percussion: crotale, triangle, tom-tom, tambourine, suspended cymbal

Link to a perusal score:


About the Composer

Elizabeth Raum has had a career in music that has spanned over 50 years beginning in Halifax where she played principal oboe with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra before coming to Regina when her husband was offered a position in the Music Department of the University of Regina in 1975. She joined the Regina Symphony Orchestra at that time and from 1986 until her retirement in 2010, played principal oboe.

Her works have been heard throughout North America, Europe, South America, China, Japan, and Russia, and have been broadcast extensively on the CBC. She has also written for film and video and has won numerous awards for her scores in that genre. She produced Canada’s first classical video with originally written music entitled Evolution: A Theme With Variations, which was premiered at a gala event at the CBC in 1986. Other film collaborations include Prelude to Parting; The Green Man Ballet; Like Mother, Like Daughter; the feature length film, Sparkle; and Symphony of Youth.

Raum has established herself as one of Canada’s most eminent composers with commissions coming from such important performing groups as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Calgary Philharmonic, the CBC, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Music Toronto, Concours de Musique du Canada, Scotia Festival, Eckhardt-Gramattee National Competition, Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Maritime Concert Opera, the Nexus Percussion Ensemble, as well as many other performing organizations. Her music has been performed by such eminent musicians as trombonist, Christian Lindberg, tubist Roger Bobo, and soprano Tracy Dahl. and is played all over the world in concerts and festivals throughout Canada, the US, Europe including Rome, England, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Russia, China and Japan.

Raum’s music has been recorded on over 40 commercial CDs, including The Legend of Heimdall recorded by the Orchestra of the Capella of St. Petersburg, Russia, with John Griffiths, tuba soloist. Her CD, how bodies leave ecstatic marks, won the award for Best Classical Composition for a the 2008 Western Music Award. Prayer and Dance of Praise, 2009, recorded by Ottawa violist, Lisa Moody and pianist, Dina Namer on their CD, Magdalene Wood was nominated for the Best Classical Composition for the Western Canadian Music Awards and the From the Heartland recording of Les Ombres and Sonata for Violin and Piano performed by Erika Raum, Violin, and David Moroz, piano was nominated for Classical Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2011.

She was awarded the Canadian Composer Award in 2013 by the Canadian Band Association, has three times received the award for Best Musical Score by the Saskatchewan Film and Video Showcase Awards and won in the Best Classical Composition category for the Western Canadian Music Awards as well as being nominated in the same class two additional times. She has also been presented with the Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan and the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada medal and in 2010 received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. In 2004 she was given an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters From Mt. St. Vincent University in Halifax Nova Scotia. Ms. Raum is included in the New Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the New Grove’s Dictionary of Opera, and the New Grove’s Dictionary of Women Composers as well as numerous other publications.

Performance Materials

Performance materials are available through the Canadian Music Centre:



Sir Gawain – I. Banquet hall
Sir Gawain – II. Seduction
Sir Gawain – III. Hunt
Sir Gawain – IV. Gawain’s dilemma
Sir Gawain – V. Banquet hall (reprise)