"Eurydissos" for chamber ensemble
Muller, Otto Hans
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Eurydissos is a musical rendering of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice for large chamber ensemble that grafts the narrative themes of loss and unsuccessful recovery onto the composer's own relationship to the music of the past, specifically Claudio Monteverdi's 1607 opera L'Orfeo. Proposing a hypothetical etymology of the name Eurydice as derived from the prefix "Eury-" meaning "encompassing a wide span" and the root "Dissos" meaning a two-part division, the composer translates the dichotomies between living and dead, male and female, success and failure, Dionysus and Apollo, which are present in the original myth, into the musical dichotomies between systematic and organic compositional methods, tonal and atonal harmonic organization, indeterminate and prescriptive notational approaches, and syntactic and semantic definitions of musical meaning. Throughout the course of the piece, borrowed materials from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo are subjected to thorough deconstruction and are re-integrated into the structural foundation upon which the music is built. Like the borrowed musical material, the narrative structure of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth is present throughout the course of the work, not as a dramatic program for the audience to apprehend as such, but rather as an internal stimulus and justification for otherwise unexpected points of formal contrast. The moment where Eurydice is finally lost, for example, is translated into the introduction of indeterminate notation that deprives the musician of the security of the traditional score; the theme of the irrecoverable past inspires the use of a cassette recorder to record and replay material within the work. These formal markers partition a broad harmonic topography wherein the tonal teleology of Monteverdi's Baroque melodies and progressions are filtered through an atonal field defined by fixed-pitch arrays of the aggregate. The result is an aesthetic whole that incorporates Monteverdi's statement on music, loss, and recovery in a thorough reworking that explores these same themes without taking the form of commentary or allowing an audible incongruity between the borrowed materials and the contemporary sonic context.