• Simon Holt
  • feet of clay (2004)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

  • solo cello
  • 15 min

Programme Note

I was approached by the cellist Ulrich Heinen, at about the time of the first performance of 'Boots of Lead' (a setting I made of Emily Dickinson’s 'I felt a funeral in my brain' for alto and ensemble, commissioned by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and their Sound Investors scheme), to write a solo piece for cello. I knew immediately that this had to be a challenging piece, and one that would stretch Uli's playing as far as possible. Uli had played in several of my pieces with BCMG and I'd always enjoyed his seemingly effortless musicianship coupled with the incredibly compelling intensity of sound that he brings to everything he plays. It was his presence when playing that gave me the idea of the hero being at the centre of the discourse, however. The cello is traditionally seen as being the instrument that comes closest to sounding like the human voice and I suppose I wanted to see if I could make an attempt at redefining this aspect of the instrument's nature. Consequently, the piece begins with a kind of cri de coeur. There's a strong sense of the heroic about the piece and the piece unfolds like a dramatic scena: a hero returns and tells the tale of how the battle was won. But, was the victory pyrrhic? The piece is approximately 14' 30" minutes long.

(28 January 2016)


Feet of Clay


Score Sample


  • Discover the music of Simon Holt
    • Discover the music of Simon Holt
    • Discover the breadth and diversity of Simon Holt’s catalogue as we explore both the orchestral and chamber music from his extensive catalogue.


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