The Drums of Orpheus

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Lou Harrison

General Info

Year: 1969
Duration: c.
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: WarnerBros
Cost: Score and Parts - $0.00   |   Score Only - $0.00



Player I - XI: bongos, tom-toms(11) bass drums(3), sistrum, apanese button gong, thunder sheet, temple bell, flexatones(2), saws(2), elephant bell, water gong, claves, maracas, wood rattle, rasp guiros(2), teponatzli, glass wind chimes, contrabass viol, small bells(3), cup bells(5), muted gongs(3), suspended cymbals(2), wood blocks(5), temple blocks(5), flower pots(5), porcelain bowls(5), water glasses(5)

Program Notes

from the ballet "Orpheus"

Online Review

"Fifth Simfony" for percussion quartet (written in 1939) and "The Drums of Orpheus" for eleven percussionist (from the ballet Orpheus) display an interest in color and rhythmic treatment reflected in other works by Lou Harrison, who has earned a distinguished reputation for his contributions to 20th-century music. Both works draw upon a large and eclectic inventory of instruments, including those inspired by non-Western sources such as temple bowls and temple bells, gongs and sistra, as well as less "exotic" items such as flower pots, brake drums and musical saws. In the three-movement "Fifth Simfony," short, often syncopated rhythmic motives are manipulated in contrapuntal fashion. In "The Drums of Orpheus," rhythm patterns are repeated to create musical statements several measures in length, forming a complex musical fabric comprised of as many as 11 different strata of sound. These works provide an excellent opportunity to experience the rich flavors and rhythmic characteristics that impart the earthy vitality and excitement found in music of non-Western origins. - John R. Raush, December 1999 [1]

Commercial Discography

Recent Performances

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

A Tribute to Charon (Passage throught Darkness/Counterdance in Spring) - Percussion Trio
Ariadne - Solo Percussion and Flute acc.
Beverly's Troubadour Piece - Percussion and Harp
Bomba (Harrison) - Percussion Quintet
Canticle No. 1 - Percussion Quintet
Canticle No. 3 - Percussion Quartet; Ocarina; Guitar (6 Players)
Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra - Percussion Octet; Organ, Piano
Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra - Percussion Quintet, Violin
Double Fanfare - Percussion Ensemble 12 - Harrison/Cirone
Double Music - Percussion Quartet - Cage/Harrison
Fifth Simfony - Percussion Quartet
First Concerto - Percussion Duo and Flute
Fugue - Percussion Quartet
In Praise of Johnny Appleseed (for Dance and Percussion) - Percussion Trio; Flute; Dancer
Labyrinth No. 3 - Percussion Ensemble (11)
Orpheus - for the Singer to the Dance - Percussion Ensemble (15); Solo Voice; Chorus
Serenade - Percussion; Guitar
Simfony No. 13 - Percussion Quartet
Suite - Percussion Quintet
Suite No. 1 - Percussion; Guitar
The Drums of Orpheus - from the ballet "Orpheus"
The Song of Queztecoatl - Percussion Quartet

Additional Resources


  1. PAS.ORG Retrieved 06/14/2012