800 Million Heartbeats
for clarinet, bass trombone, piano and percussion (1999)
or sop. sax, vln, vla, cb and pno
duration: 8’
GRT • 058 / 073

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Many living creatures lives apparently last for around 800 million heartbeats. Birds like the hummingbird have a very rapid wing motion - so fast that it becomes a blur. It also has a correspondingly fast heart rate and lives a shorter (and arguably more intense) life. By contrast, the sloth has a very slow heart rate, is given to much sleep and has a relatively long life. If humans had only 800 million heartbeats in a life, we would die young (probably in our twenties). But the actual figure is only nominal. It becomes a heightened metaphor for a life, measured in heartbeats, and the journeys that fill its course. This piece was originally written for the Southbank Contemporary Music Ensemble and subsequently adapted as a quintet for Topology and most recently for The Yarra Trio.

available on resources page

“Stuart Greenbaum’s 800 Million Heartbeats was a study in atmospherics.”
Joel Crotty, The Age, November 1999