Man with Limp Wrist

19 mins, orchestra

"distinctive and strangely touching"
        – Richard Morrison, The Times

"there was a troubled haunting quality to these skew-whiff chorales and wonky Elizabethan dances, all clothed in dusky veiled sounds"
        – Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph

"music of emotion and expressiveness, sometimes in delicate and intricate textures, often with great contrapuntal complexity and interest ... very attractive and rewarding."
        – Robert Beale, The Arts Desk



Man with Limp Wrist is an orchestral piece in nine scenes:
I – Ghost Story
II – The Texter
III – Bar Boy
IV – Untitled
V – The After-Party
VI – Family Photo
VII – The Reader
VIII – Three Friends
IX – Man with Limp Wrist

The title for this piece is derived from a 2019 oil painting by Salman Toor. It’s a tall, thin canvas, a whole-body portrait of a naked man in introspection. The painting has always struck me as unusual: Toor’s work of that time usually features characters in the midst of dynamic, domestic scenes, his distinctive protagonists (ciphers for the painter himself) finding themselves in quiet moments at crowded bars, at parties with friends, enjoying quiet reveries in the glow of a smartphone. The central character of Man with Limp Wrist, however, is a bare posed figure, standing alone, in a room, against a blank wall, one arm raised with a dangling hand, his gaze averted.

Each of the nine segments of my composition finds its inspiration in a different painting by Toor, each describing a single fleeting mood, or scene, and all but the final title movement inspired by a painting of a domestic setting. As Toor's artworks reference the Old Masters in their composition and subject matter, my music also navigates historical foundations, drawing upon melodies and harmonies from centuries-old hymns, deconstructing and reassembling them into fragments that repeat, meditate, and unravel.



This work was commissioned by the LA Phil in 2019. The world premiere was given by The Hallé in October 2023 conducted by Thomas Adès.

2 Flutes (II = Piccolo)
2 Oboes (II = Cor Anglais)
2 Clarinet in Bb (II = Bass Clarinet)
2 Bassoons (II = Contrabassoon)

2 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in C
Tenor Trombone
Bass Trombone



Past events
  1. Thomas Adés conducts the Hallé in a new piece of mine, Man With Limp Wrist, alongside a programme of his own works and Janacek's Sinfonietta.

  2. [POSTPONED] UK Premier of an LA Phil commission for wind and brass, part of LA Phil's 2021 residency at the Barbican, as well as the Barbican's series 'Thomas Adès at 50'.

  3. [POSTPONED] A new piece for LA Phil winds and brass LA Commission, conducted by Tom Ades.

    "Music of emotion and expressiveness": reviews for Man with Limp Wrist | William Marsey, Composer

    Nov 2023


    "Music of emotion and expressiveness": reviews for Man with Limp Wrist

    Last week The Hallé conducted by Thomas Adès premiered my new orchestral piece Man with a Limp Wrist, and I'm thrilled to share that we got some nice reviews: "delicate and intricate textures" (The Telegraph), "[its] charm... there was a troubled haunting quality to these skew-whiff chorales" (The Telegraph), "distinctive and strangely touching" (The Times): more info here.

    Man with Limp Wrist delivered | William Marsey, Composer

    Sep 2023


    Man with Limp Wrist delivered

    A brand new orchestral piece, originally commissioned by the LA Phil, now finally delivered to the Hallé for it's world premiere next month, 26 October. Tickets here.

    Aug 2023


    New piece with the Halle

    My orchestral piece, first commissioned by LA Phil but delayed since covid, will be premiered in Manchester on 26 October, conducted by Thomas Ades alongside his own music and Janacek's Sinfonietta. Details here.