Of Men and Mountains was commissioned by the Netherlands Brass Band Championships for their 10th Anniversary Contest, held in Drachten in December 1990.
The title of the work and its genesis came about as a result of a train journey the composer took in July 1989 across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver. The awe-inspiring journey through the Rocky Mountains, with its high peaks and shafts of sunlight breaking through the clouds, with its canyons and ferocious rapids, made the composer understand a little more about the majesty of nature and the fragility of humanity. The eternal struggle between man and nature was personified in the building of this incredible railway, hence the title (after Blake).
The work is dedicated to the memory of Eric Ball, who died shortly before the writing of the work commenced.
Of Men and Mountains is in one continuous movement and lasts about 17 mins. Its form is difficult to describe because of its motivic and accumulative nature, but it is essentially a symphonic tone poem in search of a theme, which eventually comes in its final and complete state in the majestic ending after an ever-increasing paced scherzo.