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David Heyes

Humphrey Clucas: Baroque Suite for Unaccompanied Double Bass

Humphrey Clucas: Baroque Suite for Unaccompanied Double Bass

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About the Composition

This publication brings together Baroque Suite and two short pieces for unaccompanied double bass by the English composer Humphrey Clucas. Known particularly for his vocal and organ music, Humphrey has composed a wealth of music for double bass over the past twenty years, which is beautifully written and instantly appealing. 

Primarily written for younger bassists, his music offers musical and technical challenges in the orchestral register of the instrument, creating a body of music that emphasizes the lyrical and sonorous qualities of the double bass. 

Table of Contents

Baroque Suite 

Baroque Suite is in six short movements, entirely in bass clef, was composed in 2008 and is ideal for the intermediate bassist, 

“My Baroque Suite was an attempt to provide for the double bass something a little like the Bach Cello Suites. It is shorter, simpler, and of course, infinitely less distinguished, but I hope it may be useful. It follows the standard Suite pattern: a Prelude followed by a series of dance movements. The Courante is faster than it looks: Allegretto only, but three beats to a bar. The second half of the Gigue, as is common in Bach’s keyboard suites, starts with an inversion of the first half.” [Humphrey Clucas, 2009] 

Baroque Suite was premiered by Eloise Riddell on 26 April 2009 at Wells Cathedral School (Wells, Somerset) as part of Bass-Fest@Wells. 


Phantasmata (Fantasies) was composed in May 2020 for Teppo & Frank @ 80, a project devised by David Heyes to celebrate the 80th birthdays of bass legends Frank Proto and Teppo Hauta-aho, who both celebrated significant birthdays in 2020. 

"The basis for this piece is the plainsong hymn 'Te lucis ante terminum'. My epigraph is the English version of half the second verse. (Phantasmata: Latin for 'fantasies') The first fifteen bars represent ill dreams, nightly fears, etc. The last note of bar 15 begins the plainsong tune, representing the forces of light; it is compromised, however, by succeeding lines starting in the wrong key. The piece ends with a question mark; neither side wins." [Humphrey Clucas] 

Prelude & Gigue 

Prelude & Gigue was composed in July 2019 as an early birthday present for David Heyes, founder of Recital Music, who celebrated his 60th birthday in September 2020. 

"How does one write a 60-second piece? Remembering my Baroque Suite, also for unaccompanied double bass, I thought it might be fun to do more of the same. The Prelude in Bach-like, the Gigue rather less so." 

Prelude & Fugue was premiered on Sunday 21 July 2019, at Church Crookham Memorial Hall (Fleet, Hampshire) by David Heyes (double bass) 

Humphrey Clucas was born in 1941 and read English at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a Choral Scholar. Having taught English for twenty-seven years, he subsequently became a Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey but is now retired. 

As a composer, he is self-taught, and although he is well known for a set of Anglican Responses written as an undergraduate, almost all his serious music has been written over 

the last twenty-five years. He has a growing reputation as a choral composer and has produced an impressive and steady stream of choral works, both sacred and secular, alongside much instrumental music. He has written works for Cathedrals in Chichester, Guildford, Salisbury, and Winchester, as well as for King’s College, Cambridge, Southwell Minster, and Westminster Abbey. 

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