Dance of the Maenads

Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
7 minutes
Modern classical music
Related scores

This was written specifically for a dance/theater performance directed by Jean Erdmann, wife of Joseph Campbell. The text was by California poet, Robinson Jeffers, regarding the Greek myth of Theseus. This composition is the climax of the story. Theseus’ mother is a worshipper of Dionysius. She and her Maenads get whacked out on some heavy brew, and hallucinate that Theseus is a lion. His mother with great heroism chops off his head and runs through the city crying, "Sisters! I have killed a lion!" For the final 12 measures the woodwind and brass players are instructed to dismantle their instruments and make animal sounds through the tubes. The string players are requested to bow on the opposite side of the bridge or yell through the F holes. Understandably, this does not sound so great with Midi, so please use your imagination for the climax.

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