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David Heyes

David Heyes: Passchendaele - a Meditation for 2 double basses & piano

David Heyes: Passchendaele - a Meditation for 2 double basses & piano

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About the Composition

Passchendaele - a Meditation for 2 double basses and piano was inspired by an iconic photograph of Australian gunners on a duckboard track in Château Wood near Hooge taken by by Frank Hurley on 29 October 1917.  

The music is simple and slow-moving, contrasting strong and powerful emotions from the two soloists, set against a simple and repetitive accompaniment that subtly underpins the melodic lines. There are opportunities to display the lyrical and sonorous qualities of the double bass, whether as a duet or in the two solo soliloquies, which eventually die away into nothingness and into the mists of time. 

The original version for 2 double basses and string quartet was premiered at Lanlivery Church (Lanlivery, Cornwall) on Saturday, 17 July 2015, by David Heyes (double bass), Joe Prindl (double bass) and the Liskeard Chamber Players. 

About the Arrangement

The version for 2 double basses and piano was premiered on Sunday 25 October 2015 at Clifton College (Bristol, UK) by David Heyes (double bass), Ben Groenevelt (double bass) and Rustom Battiwalla (piano) and received its Mexican premiere on 20 November 2015 by Marco Antonio Quiñones Martinez (double bass), Hector Tirado (double bass) and Patricia Miravete (piano). 

The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917 Now spelt Passendale, this small village five miles north-east of Ypres is the name by which the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres is known. It is the name, along with the Somme, which has come to symbolise the Great War for many. 

Passchendaele church was totally destroyed by shellfire in 1917 but has since been reconstructed and now dominates the village square. Within the church are memorial windows in honour of the 66th Division. There are three windows. The left states "1914" at the bottom, with the names and shields of several northern towns above, including Bury, Accrington, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan. 


"Passchendaele is a wonderful piece..." (Marco Antonio Quiñones Martinez, Mexico) 

"What a privilege to share the stage with you both. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I have rarely seen an audience, adults and young children alike, so visibly moved as during Passchendaele - a Meditation. Extraordinary stuff." [Ruth O'Shea, violinist] 

"Passchendaele was extraordinary both as a piece and as a performance by you both. I haven't heard something as wonderful as that for some time." [Luke, member of the audience] 

About the Composer

David Heyes studied double bass with Laurence Gray and Bronwen Naish, later at the Royal College of Music in London, and completed his post-graduate studies in Prague with František Pošta (Principal Bass, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra). He 

has given recitals and masterclasses in 20 countries over the past few years and has been a juror at a number of international competitions, three times as chairman. 

David's collaborative work gained him a prestigious award from the David Walter Charitable Trust of New York for his pioneering activities as a soloist, teacher, publisher, and commissioner of new music for double bass and he works with composers throughout the world to expand the double bass repertoire by commissioning new music and by rediscovering forgotten ones. Since 1983 more than 700 works have been written for him, music from one to twenty basses and from beginner to virtuoso, and he has premiered ten contemporary concertos with orchestra. 

David began to compose in 2013 and has had music performed and recorded in 27 countries across five continents. He is a D'Addario Performing Artist and has recently commissioned a solo double bass from British master-luthier Martin Penning. 

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