• Simon Holt
  • Two movements for string quartet (2001)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned jointly by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the BBC as part of Radio 3's New Generation Artists Scheme

Part 2 of the cycle 'a ribbon of time'
Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Chamber-scale Composition 2002

  • String Quartet
  • 15 min
  • Emily Dickinson

Programme Note

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

- Emily Dickinson


Two movements for string quartet is the second part of my proposed five-part cycle “a ribbon of time”, the first part being Sunrise’ yellow noise for soprano and orchestra. It is a cycle of pieces using the poetry of Emily Dickinson as its starting point.

The two movements take their titles from the above poem: “Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz -” and “The Stillness in the Room” respectively. More or less all the material for the piece is derived from the opening viola solo of the second movement. It is approximately 15’ in duration.

© Simon Holt
April, 2001

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