Partita dates from 1971, when it was commissioned by the Redbridge Youth Band. The musical thread that runs through the work is the 13th century plainsong Dies Irae from the Requiem Mass. This gives the work a rather sombre tone which is audible right from the start of its first movement Intrada. The initial hammer-like chords of the opening and conclusion are only interrupted momentarily by a more lyrical modal tune. Even here, on its repetition, it is surrounded by more insistent textural patterns.
The second movement, Chorale and Variations, uses the Dies Irae as the basis for an extended melody in the manner of a baroque sarabande. The five variations that follow are varied in texture, tempi, and dynamics. The final March is more optimistic in mood and presents as its main idea a rather jaunty theme which gets developed throughout the movement. However, the ominous presence of the Dies Irae has the last say with a final statement to round off the work.