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Eurydice ... a tone poem for cello and orchestra (1995)

Digital Sheet Music

By Thomas Oboe Lee

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Cello Solo - Level 4 - Digital Download
Composed by Thomas Oboe Lee. 20th Century, Baroque, Classical, Contemporary, Romantic Period. Individual part. 121 pages. Thomas Oboe Lee #2016147. Published by Thomas Oboe Lee (A0.869196).

Item Number: A0.869196

Instrumentation: solo cello & 3222-4231-timp-2perc-hp-strings.

When I presented to Max Hobart the idea of composing a new work for Andrés Díaz and the Civic Symphony Orchestra, he suggested that I, instead of writing a conventional "concerto," consider writing a tone poem for cello and orchestra. I thought, why not? I always enjoy a good challenge.

So, I looked into all that wonderful stuff Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss came up with in that genre - "Harold in Italy," "Romeo and Juliet," "Don Quixote," "Ein Heldenleben," "Tod und Verklärung," etc. I had a blast re-living the joy of all that out-pouring of emotion, orchestral colors, and uninhibited romantic excess in musical expression. In choosing my subject, I went straight to the reason why I wanted to write a piece for Andrés in the first place - the wonderful tone and singing quality of his cello and that soulful voice only he can project - a voice that charms and enchants. Orpheus seemed the perfect subject.

According to Greek myth, Orpheus' singing lyre put everyone who listened into a spell. Edith Hamilton writes in her book, Mythology, "There was no limit to his power when he played and sang. No one and nothing could resist him. Everything animate and inanimate followed Orpheus. He could move trees, mountains, and change the courses of rivers."

My tone-poem is about Orpheus and Eurydice, a love story in which Orpheus loses Eurydice soon after their wedding. He laments her death, and then resolves to rescue her from the Underworld. Because his singing is so beautiful and irresistible, the Furies cannot refuse his request to return Eurydice. With Eurydice in his arms, finally, they dance. But the denizens of the Underworld change their minds and take her away again. In the aftermath, Orpheus laments his loss once more.

It is true, the myth has been a favorite subject among composers since the advent of opera in the 1600's. A few of the better-known examples: Jacopo Peri's "Euridice," Claudio Monteverdi's "Orfeo," Christoph Willibald von Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice," Jacques Offenbach's operetta, "Orpheus in the Underworld," and Igor Stravinsky's ballet, "Orpheus." It seems like a tremendous responsibility and burden for a composer to try to come up with something "new" after all these precedents. But, what the heck, there really isn't anything "new" or "shocking" anymore these days. A composer does not always consciously try for the "new." It is just as important to make music that speaks to the heart. Music with dramatic narrative. Music that moves. In that sense, my "Eurydice" is music theater. And in the process, should a "masterpiece" reveal itself, so much the better.

The work is in four movements, played without pause -
I. Orpheus weeps
II. Orpheus' resolve
III. Orpheus and Eurydice
IV. Orpheus' apotheosis

Audio link:

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