An Appreciation of Barrington Pheloung by Guest Writer Helen Roulston.

Hello everyone. It has been a solemn time with the news of Barrington Pheloung’s death. Helen Roulston Professor Emerita from Murray State University, Murray, KY, one of my subscribers, has done an extensive study of Barrington Pheloung’s masterful use of music in Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour. I asked if she could write something on Barrington and she did. I have added the videos illustrate the scenes Helen speaks of in her writing.

I was shocked and saddened to read about the death of Barrington Pheloung, who, as Macbeth says of his wife, “should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word.” He will be sorely mourned and missed by his many Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour fans, including me. When I began my research long ago into his use of music in Inspector Morse, I read that he had wanted to wean Morse off the late nineteenth century composers, such as Bruckner and Mahler, among his favorites in Colin Dexter’s books. Instead Pheloung incorporated his own recordings of composers, whose music, whether instrumental, vocal, or operatic, could be judiciously incorporated as themes and clues into the various episodes of the Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis and the first years of the Endeavour series, along with his own original music, especially the opening and closing works of the videos. Among Pheloung’s most often used composers were Bach (instrumental and vocal), Mozart (instrumental, vocal, and operatic), Haydn (instrumental), and Schubert (instrumental and vocal), Two opera-centered Morse programs incorporated excerpts from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute in “The Masonic Mysteries” (1990) and Wagner’s “Immolation Scene” in “Götterdämmerung” in “Twilight of the Gods” (1993). Much later in “Lewis: Music to Die for” (2008) Pheloung again uses the “Immolation Scene.”

Pheloung also incorporated a number of other composers, sometimes in unusual arrangements, including Gregorio Allegri, whose Psalm 50 (51) à9, “Miserere mei, Deus” (“Have Mercy on Me, Oh God”) for Holy Week shows up in “Cherubim and Seraphim” (1992) when Jacko Lever, a young drug dealer, mixes this work in his “House Music” with loud percussive music along with part of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Much later in “Lewis: Old School Ties” (2007), in All Saint’s Church, Hathaway plays the “Miserere” on his guitar with a pianist, cellist, and clarinetist, combining world music, jazz, and medieval madrigals, as Hathaway later tells Lewis.


Barrington Pheloung greatly enhanced these Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour series, which will be loved and admired for many years to come. As Shakespeare so beautifully put it in Sonnet 18,

“Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Helen H. Roulston, Professor Emerita from Murray State University, Murray, KY

Thank you Helen.

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Author: Chris Sullivan

Up until a few years ago I was my mum's full time carer. She died in, 2020, of Covid. At the moment I am attempting to write a novel.

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