Unreal Promenades


saxophone orchestra

Additional Information

Unreal Promenades was partly inspired by André Breton’s novel, ‘Nadja’. This book describes Breton’s brief relationship with a woman he encounters by chance in Paris, and he continues to see her for several days although often meeting in a random manner. The novel has a non-linear construction that takes detours through the inner world of surrealism, as well as through the outer world of the city, and all pointing to the dreaminess of our experience of reality.

I used the idea of this book to construct a piece that is built from fragments of experience, in which a number of self-contained sections come and go; some are transformed and reappear, and others are only visited once.

It was crucial to the music that each section should have a clear emotional identity, and to help me focus on this I turned to another French book, this time by Roland Barthes, called ‘A Lover’s Discourse’. This is another fragmentary work, in which Barthes anatomises various aspects of love, and in doing so gives each part of the book a specific title, for example; Fête/Festivity, Angoisse/Anxiety, Écorché/Flayed. I used some of these titles to head up each of the twenty-three sections of the music, which are played as one continuous piece.

The piece was composed for the Eastman Saxophone Project and first performed by them in 2015. The UK premiere was given by the Royal College of Music saxophone orchestra in 2017.



Composers Edition


Date published
Eastman Saxophone Project
Record company
Live performance
Unreal Promenades