• Simon Holt
  • everything turns away (2010)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Programme Note

The title 'everything turns away' is a phrase from the Auden poem 'Musée des Beaux Arts', which describes the scene depicted in a painting by Breugel of Icarus falling from the sky having flown too close to the sun using wings made by his father Daedalus. The combination of youthful hubris and the heat from the sun melting the wax that holds the feathers in place, causes the catastrophe. But, it's a catastrophe that nobody seems to notice. Everybody goes about their business oblivious to it:

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

The piece is scored for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass and is approx. 8' long. It involves a calamitous event, which would seem to go completely unnoticed by four members of the ensemble. They go about their business as if nothing is happening, despite the fact that their music is mostly overwhelmed by the event itself.

N.B. The spelling is in fact Breugel. The painter changed his name in order not to be confused with his sons.

[3rd March 2011]

This work was commissioned by Britten Sinfonia and for the world premiere was programmed alongside The Trout Quintet by Schubert.


Score Sample