A symphony for football’s dead

A symphony for football’s dead


norman lebrecht

April 09, 2014

Michael Nyman has written a symphony for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra containing the 96 names of innocent football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago. The composer hopes it will make ‘a small but significant contribution to the healing process for the families.

The premiere is in Liverpool on July 5.


hillsborough fans


  • Paul says:

    Oh brother. Anyone who writes a so-called “Fifth Symphony” without writing 4 before it, as Nyman has done, is already skating on thin ice of credibility as a composer. This just more fuel to the fire.

    • Mikey says:

      I do find it odd that he is writing his “symphony no.11” and yet can only find reference to three symphonies on his own website and in his own list of works.

      In some cases understandable that an early work may be withdrawn, for example, Schuman who withdrew his two first symphonies, but kept the sequential numbering from there, so his 1st available is symphony no.3.

      I myself withdrew two early symphonies from my catalog.

      But Nyman appears to have symphonies numbered 2, 5 and 6… and now this number 11. It does make one wonder what happened at least to symphonies 7 through 10.

  • John Riley says:

    Perhaps it’s something numerological, based on there being eleven players in a football team. His score to Peter Greenaway’s enjoyable (if you like that sort of thing – which I do) structuralist film ‘Vertical Features Remake’ is also based on the number eleven, albeit for different reasons.

  • Paul says:

    Good points, Mikey but no mystery. He has very unabashedly explained in interviews that his 5th Symphony is his first. There are no symphonies 1 – 4,existing or withdrawn. He just gave the symphony the NAME “Fifth Symphony”, he says. I imagine it’s the same with his “Eleventh”. It’s pretty arrogant, actually. But that’s how he rolls. He’s a master of self-promotion and people buy into it. Yuck.