Time of the Comet (Symphonic Poem for Orchestra) Op.25

A symphonic poem for large orchestra, written during the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997. The work is included on PRISMA: Contemporary Works for Orchestra (Navona Records NV6141) in a performance by the Moravian Philharmonic under Petr Vronský.


3 Fl 3rd doubling Picc, 2 Ob, CA, 2 Cl, BCl, 3 Bsn, 4 Hn, 3 Trpt, 3 Trbn, Tba, Timp, BD, Cym, SD, T-T, Xyl, (3 players), Hp, Strings


c.12 minutes

Year Completed



La va compondre el 1997; es va inspirar en la brillantor el cometa Hale-Bopp, un dels cometes més observat del darrer segle. Introdueix el tema, rítmic i joiós, amb el vent i el segueix tota la massa orquestral cantant l’univers, que també és vida.

Composed in 1997, it was inspired by the flare of the Hale-Bopp, one of the most noted comets of the last century. The theme enters rhythmically and joyously, followed by the whole orchestra ‘singing the universe’, which also is life.

Album Review : PRISMA
Marçal Borotau, Sonograma

The score opens vigorously, achieving, at its close, sustained risen majesty. The composer says the music is informed by “a wider notion of where the comet may have travelled on its infinite journey through the universe”. Let's not get too carried away by imagery for he assures us "there is no ‘programme’, and … hopes that the work might also be listened to as a purely abstract piece." I think we will over the years hear more of Sainsbury and I look forward to each instance of his music stepping into my field of view and hearing.

Album Review : PRISMA
Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

A sparkly introduction by the trumpets lays the ground for a brisk full-orchestra section, followed by a calmer and warm second theme. I can imagine myself looking at the Hale-Bopp comet lying down in wide grassland somewhere in Sussex. The whole piece, tonal, certainly sounds British: in his own personal language, Mr. Sainsbury doesn’t forget his own roots and the fabric of British symphonic music, while throwing American influences in the mix and a polished orchestration that reminds of Dutilleux.

Album Review : PRISMA
Gianmaria Griglio, conductor and composer


Photo Gallery


Promotional video made at recording of Time of the Comet at Reduta Hall, Olomouc, Czech Republic, June 2017, including short interview with the composer:

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