The Biggest Thing I've Ever Squashed

Laurence Osborn

  • Duration

    4 mins

  • Year of composition


  • Number of performers


  • First performance

    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, 29th January 2023

  • Commissioned by

    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as part of its centenary celebrations, with support from the John Feeney Charitable Trust


The Biggest thing I’ve Ever Squashed takes its name from an interview with the artist Cornelia Parker. She’s talking about a sousaphone which she flattened with an industrial press in order to make her piece Perpetual Canon. Perpetual Canon is a mobile made from suspended flattened brass instruments which have been arranged in the round and backlit onto the walls of the space in silhouette. The Biggest thing I’ve Ever Squashed begins with six bars of a march, which are repeated and gradually ‘squashed’ in various ways, before being exploded into fragments and arranged into a sort of structural mobile. Music is heard both in its original and shadow forms. At the end, remaining fragments are re-arranged into a new march, which carries the piece to its conclusion. Like Cornelia Parker’s sousaphone, the six bars of orchestral
march that open the piece are the biggest thing I’ve ever squashed.

Full Scoring:

2 Flutes (Piccolo doubling Alto Flute)
3 Oboes (3rd doubling Cor Anglais)
3 Clarinets (1st & 3rd in B flat, 2nd in E flat, 3rd doubling Bass Clarinet)
3 Bassoons (3rd doubling Contrabassoon)
4 Horns in F
3 Trumpets in B flat
3 Trombones (3rd on Bass Trombone)
Timpani (1 Player)
Percussion (3 Players)
Player 1: Snare Drum, Tenor Drum, Floor Tom (low), 3 Suspended Cymbals (different sizes),
Marimba, Bongos
Player 2: Castanets (mounted), Ratchet (mounted), Thunder Sheet (small), Vibraphone, Congas
Player 3: Vibraslap, Cabasa (mounted), 3 Suspended Cymbals (different sizes), Almglocken, Glockenspiel,
2 Timbales
10-12 First Violins
10-12 Second Violins
8-10 Violas
6-10 Cellos
4-8 Double Basses

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