performance by Osiris Ensemble

(Written in 1995)

Setting of Nietzsche for SATB choir, four flutes and strings.

Dedication: To Clare Caddick. 

Commissioned: by the Osiris Ensemble, with funds from Sutton Arts Council. 


SATB choir [+ sop solo], 4fl vln1.vln2.vla.vlc.db. 

Timing: c. 13 mins.

Programme notes:

    Deeper Than Heart’s Agony was commissioned by the Osiris Ensemble and first performed by them in 1996. It is mostly slow and contemplative, and sets a text by Nietzsche dealing with his theory of eternal recurrance. (Incidentally, this is the same text set by Mahler in his Third Symphony.) This warns man of the depth of grief in the world but contrasts this with the joy that is also eternally present. The scoring was chosen to balance the forces of the small choir – the ensemble of four flutes and strings provide an often static backdrop for the vocal group. The choir mainly sing in homophony, emphasizing the essentially non-developmental nature of the text-setting despite certain moments of word-painting. 


  • May 1996: Osiris Ensemble, conductor Clare Caddick.
  • March 1998: Osiris Ensemble and Bromley Symphony Orchestra, conductor Clare Caddick.


    “Samuel Becker’s Deeper Than [The] Heart’s Agony, a choral and orchestral study of humanity’s struggle to find happiness in a world beset by misery. There is an ethereal quality in his work. The ensemble comprises young singers, whose fresh, youthful voices provided a more poignant interpretation of an eloquent if rather melancholy work that might have been generated by older and more worldly-wise performers.”

Roy Atterbury, Kentish Times.