Matthew Schellhorn

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Cambridge Music Festival 2009

Newly commissioned set of piano miniatures Homage to Haydn received its world premiere recently in the 2009 Cambridge Music Festival.



On Thursday 12 November, six pieces by different composers were performed to an enthusiastic audience in Robinson College Chapel.

Homage to Haydn is a set of six miniatures commissioned by pianist Matthew Schellhorn for the 2009 Cambridge Festival. The idea came from the project undertaken a hundred years ago for the Haydn Centenary by Debussy, Ravel, Dukas, d’Indy, Hahn and Widor, each of whom wrote a miniature, later published in La Revue Musicale, for the Société Internationale de Musique. These pieces were based on the letters H-A-Y-D-N translated into the musical notes B-A-D-D-G (where B = H in German, and with D and G supplying for otherwise unplayable letters): this technique, known as soggetto cavato (literally, ‘carved subject’), was commonly used in the Renaissance.

A hundred years later, six British composers – Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Michael Zev Gordon, Cecilia McDowall, Colin Riley, Jeremy Thurlow, and Tim Watts – have written pieces to celebrate Haydn’s bicentenary. At Matthew Schellhorn’s request, the choice of letters was freed up, with the two ‘spare’ letters becoming at the discretion of each composer.

Full programme notes for these pieces and an interview with Matthew Schellhorn in Muso Magazine can be read here.



Matthew Schellhorn with five of the six composers. From left to right: Tim Watts, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Jeremy Thurlow, Michael Zev Gordon, Cecilia McDowall. Absent: Colin Riley.


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