Professor Neil Heyde

Head of Research Programmes

BMus, MMus, PhD, LMusA, Hon RAM

Academic Studies - Head of Postgraduate Programmes
Research Programmes - Head of Postgraduate Programmes

Cellist, researcher, editor and lecturer

Neil is the cellist of the Kreutzer Quartet and Head of Postgraduate Programmes at Royal Academy of Music. His research focuses on the interfaces between performance, composition and analysis. As a soloist and chamber musician he has appeared throughout Europe, broadcasting for the BBC, WDR, ORF, Radio France, Netherlands Radio and many other networks.

New music is central to his work but he is also dedicated to performing and recording neglected areas of the repertoire. Important projects have been Ferneyhough’s Time and Motion Study II for solo cello and electronics (1973–76) and first recordings of the complete quartets of Michael Finnissy, Roberto Gerhard, David Matthews (ongoing) and Anton Reicha (ongoing). He has edited a series of critical editions for Faber Music. He has supervised numerous doctoral students to completion and currently has students working on Bartók, Piatti, Stokowski, and on developing innovative combinations of theatre and musical performance.

In September 2013 Neil was appointed as a Professor of the University of London at the Royal Academy of Music.

Research Statement

Neil’s research draws directly on his day-to-day experiences as a cellist — both as soloist and chamber musician. There are several key strands:

As a recording artist he has largely focused on new repertoire and on the music of the later 20th-century that has fallen out of the concert repertoire, explicitly seeking to establish a performance practice. Understanding the implicit and explicit nature of collaborative musical creation (both past and present) is at the core of his work, and this crucially inflects his readings of musical texts as both performer and editor.  

A fascination with the physical dimension of music making has led to a range of work under the idea of ‘instrumental choreography’. This encompasses the collaborative creation of new work with composers in which the physical dimension of production is understood as a primary category of musical experience and not merely a medium, the presentation of existing music in film and documentary, and articles considering the significance of explicit activation of the visual dimension of musical production.

The richness, vitality, and communicative power of musical notation has been pursued in writing exploring both New Music and a range of late 19th- and early 20th-century masterpieces (with specific emphasis on Debussy and Fauré). Neil is currently editing the volume of Debussy’s sonatas for the Œuvres Complètes de Claude Debussy in Paris.

The study of recordings, and in particular the evidence of early 20th-century performance practices that they embody, is a thread that runs through all of the areas above. In Neil’s teaching at the Academy, he is currently working closely on recordings and videos of Pablo Casals and marked scores from his studio in the 1950s.


Selected recent publications:
Unfold, Australian String Quartets of the 1960s and 70s — Don Banks, Nigel Butterley, Richard Meale and Felix Werder (w. Kreutzer Quartet) [Move Records MD3371, 2014] First recordings (except Banks)

Anton Reicha — Complete String Quartets, VolumeTwo, op.48 no.3 and op.49 no.1 (w. Kreutzer Quartet) [Toccata Classics TOCC0040, 2014] First recordings

Edvard Grieg and Michael Finnissy — Grieg Piano Quintet (EG.118 completed Finnissy) and Finnissy Grieg-Quintettsatz (w. Kreutzer Quartet and Roderick Chadwick, piano) [Metier Sound and Vision MSV28541, 2013] First recordings

Quartet Choreography — String Quartets by Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, Ligeti and Finnissy [no.2] (w. Kreutzer Quartet). DVD film and essay by NH — produced by NH and Colin Still. Directed by Colin Still. [Metier Sound and Vision MSVDX101, 2012]

Michael Finnissy: Second and Third String Quartets (w. Kreutzer Quartet) [NMC, NMCD180, 2012] First recordings (see also CUP chapter, Quartet Choreography DVD and Evolution and Collaboration)

Neil Heyde and Amanda Bayley: Communicating through notation: Michael Finnissy’s Second String Quartet from composition to performance in R. Woodley and A. Bayley (ed.) Notation and Practice: Essays in Musical Performance and Textuality  (CUP, 2014 [delayed from 2010, and already cited elsewhere])

Neil Heyde and Amanda Bayley: Interpreting indeterminacy: Filming Lutosławski’s String Quartet, Polish Music since 1945 (Kraków: Musica Iagellonica, 2013)

Neil Heyde and Richard Beaudoin: The handless watch: On composing and performing Flutter echoes (Divergence Press, 1 — Temporalities in Contemporary Music, March 2013) DOI: 10.5920/divp.2013.12

A documentary (Electric Chair Music) and performance of Brian Ferneyhough’s Time and Motion Study II can be accessed at the Institute of Musical Research’s New Music Insight pages:

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