Neil is the cellist of the Kreutzer Quartet and Head of Postgraduate Programmes at Royal Academy of Music

As a cellist has made more than 40 recordings spanning music from the 17th to the 21st centuries and expanding the quartet and cello repertoires through exploratory collaborations with composers and by championing music from outside the mainstream. His research is concerned with the ways in which musicians communicate with one another – and with exploring relationships with instruments.

He was a member of the REF2014 assessment panel for Music, Dance, Drama and the Performing Arts and has given keynote lectures at major events internationally, exploring both his own research practice and some of the ways in which practice-driven research can be developed. Under his leadership – and in collaboration with a group of exceptional colleagues – the Royal Academy of Music has developed a distinctive practice-driven research culture at both masters and doctoral levels that is intimately linked with the core activities of the institution. He has supervised nearly twenty completed PhDs at the Academy and examined widely across the sector in the UK and internationally. He currently has doctoral students working on Ferrucio Busoni, Emile Sauret, the oboe in 19th-century France, and new music for viola.

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

For any questions about Research at the Academy please contact Neil at

Research Statement

Following a doctoral thesis on Debussy’s three late sonatas Neil’s work focused on composer-performer collaboration and instrumental choreography, the latter exploring the ways in which the actions of performance are not merely means to sonic ends but expressive in their own right. This work was published in articles and films, including a documentary about, and film of, Brian Ferneyhough’s Time and Motion Study II (1972-76) and a DVD with commentary with the Kreutzer Quartet titled Quartet Choreography, exploring iconic 20th-century quartet repertoire (Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, Ligeti) and a new commission for the project by Michael Finnissy. The Institute of Musical research also hosts some extended lectures and performances exploring aspects of instrumental choreography on iTunesU.

He is currently completing a critical edition of Debussy’s three late sonatas for the Œuvres completes de Claude Debussy in Paris and working on a series of interconnected projects that explore some of the ways in which instruments are ‘not just tools’. A lecture and performance of Michael Finnissy’s Chi Mei Ricercari for cello and piano (given on seven cellos from the Academy’s collection) is available on the Academy’s website, exploring the idea of the instrument.

Other current projects include several book chapters and collaboration on a major cycle of solo cello pieces by American composer Richard Beaudoin (Dartmouth College), exploring relationships with iconic recordings (by Argerich, Casals, Debussy, Gould, Monk and Teyte/Cortot) and the identity of the instrument. His teaching draws extensively on recordings as means for discovering the richness of musical relationships.

‘Listening to the ‘instrument:’ a performer’s response to Michael Finnissy’s music for string quartet and the Chi Mei Ricercari for cello and piano.’ In Bright Futures, Dark Pasts: Michael Finnissy at 70, ed. Ian Pace and Nigel McBride (Routledge, 2019)

Michael Finnissy: Civilisation (2004/13), Contrapunctus XIX (2013), Clarinetten-Liederkreis (2016), Mad Men in the Sand (2013) Six Sexy Minuets Three Trios (2003) on Six Sexy Minuets Three Trios (w. Kreutzer Quartet and Linda Merrick, clarinet) [Metier MSV28581, 2018]

‘Why? What? Where? Questioning the responsibilities of researchers and environments in self-reflexive work.’ Invited keynote for ‘Beyond 'mesearch': autoethnography, self-reflexivity, and personal experience as academic research in music studies', Institute of Musical Research conference, London, April 2018.

Gloria Coates: Piano Quintet (2013), (w. Roderick Chadwick and Kreutzer Quartet) [Naxos: 8.559848, 2018]

Jeremy Dale Roberts: Chamber and Instrumental Music (String Quintet, 2014, w. Kreutzer Quartet and Bridget MacRae) [Toccata Classics, TOCC0487, 2018]

Amanda Bayley and Neil Heyde: 'Communicating through notation: Michael Finnissy’s Second String Quartet from composition to performance.' Music Performance Research, vol.8 (2017) ISSN 1755-9219, pp. 80-97

Sarah Callis, Neil Heyde, Zubin Kanga and Olivia Sham: ‘Creative Resistance as a Performance Tool”, Music + Practice, vol, 2, (2015) ISSN 1893-9562

David Matthews: Complete String Quartets, Volume Four, String Quartets no. 11, Diabelli Variation (1975) and Beethoven transcriptions opp. 22ii, 101 and 119 (w. Kreutzer Quartet) [Toccata Classics, TOCC 0318, 2016] First recordings

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)