Wednesday, January 1, 2020


I have recently taken the plunge into world of virtual orchestration via the Noteperformer platform. As I'm principally an acoustic composer / arranger I've never had the time to really delve in to the more detailed and complex software, so Noteperformer has been a major gift in allowing me to hear realizations of my projects, including this reduction of Elektra, via a platform that's extraordinarily easy to use and intuitive, while providing excellent results.

So I'll occasionally be sharing sections of the full score as each scene is fully formatted. For the greedy and curious, these teasers will probably avoid the best known, "juiciest" bits. That'll have to wait for full rental or licensing.

No better place to begin at the beginning.

Friday, December 27, 2019


With Strauss’ copyrights steadily expiring worldwide, it’s no surprise that the family and estate have been exploring ways to continue having at least the scores, if not performance rights, generate some income.

One is a project, now underway for nearly five years, of critical editions of Strauss’ work, beginning with the operas and published by Schott. This should be fascinating: The currently published scores were almost always hastily engraved for use in the premiere production, and rarely take note of the numerous errata identified post-premiere or Strauss’ amendments as the years went by. Elektra itself has a healthy number of mistakes, some of which are of such long standing that they’ve become accepted.

Another seems to be new versions of the operas for smaller orchestras. Not surprisingly this includes Elektra, undertaken with the estate’s authorization by Eberhard Kloke, a German composer and conductor.

While I haven’t yet seen Kloke’s version, I’m particularly fascinated by the instrumental allocation he’s chosen. For reference, I’m including both Strauss’ original and my own:

Strauss’ original
E. Kloke
E. Windels
4 flutes (3rd and 4th also piccolos)
3 oboes (3rd also English Horn)
1 Heckelphone
1 Eb clarinet
4 Bb clarinets, 3rd and 4th also A clarinets
2 basset horns
1 bass clarinet
3 bassoons
1 contrabassoon
Total winds: 20

8 horns (5th and 7th also tenor Wagner tubas in Bb, 6th and 8th also bass Wagner tubas in F)
6 trumpets
1 bass trumpet
3 trombones
1 contrabass trombone
1 contrabass tuba
Total brass: 20

2 timpanists covering 8 drums

4 percussionists playing bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, snare drum, tam tam, 2 pairs of castagnettes, rute, glockenspiel

2 harps (the composer blithely requests that, if possible, these be doubled at the very end of the opera, beginning with Elektra’s dance.  Regrettably I have yet to see this request fulfilled.)

Celesta (optional)

Violins 1, 2 and 3: 8 players each
Violas 1, 2 and 3: 6 players each (1st violas double as 4th violins)
Cellis 1 and 2: 6 players each
Basses 1 and 2: 4 players each

Toral: 110

2 flutes (both piccolos, 2nd also alto flute)
3 oboes (2nd and 3rd also English Horns, 3rd also Heckelphon)
3 clarinets (1st and 2nd also Eb clarinets and basset horns, 3rd also bass and contrabass clarinets)
2 bassoons (2nd also contrabassoon

6 horns (3rd and 4th also tenor Wagner tubas in Bb, 5th and 6th also bass Wagner tubas in F)
3 trumpets
3 trombones
1 tuba


2 percussionists playing bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, snare drum, tam tam, 2 pairs of castagnettes, rute, glockenspiel

Celesta (also piano)


10 first violins
8 second violins
9 violas
6 cellos
4 doublebasses

Total: 62
1 flute (also piccolo)
2 oboes (2nd also English Horn)
2 clarinets in Bb and A (2nd also Bb bass clarinet)
1 bassoon (also contrabassoon)

2 horns trumpets
1 trombone
1 bass trombone

2 percussionists playing timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, snare drum, tam tam, 2 pairs of castagnettes, rute, glockenspiel


Organ (electronic keyboard, also celesta if possible)

Violins 1, 2 and 3 (minimum 3 each) 
Violas 1, 2 and 3 (minimum 2 each)
Cellos 1 and 2 (minimum 2 each)
2nd cellos (minimum 2)
2 doublebasses

Total: 35

There are a number of fascinating aspects to Kloke’s choices, the primary one being the use of instruments outside of the original: the alto flute and the contrabass clarinet.

Then there are some quite eye-opening wind doubling whose genesis seem to be inspired by musical theater world, but which still pose questions. For all of the Heckelphone’s intended status as the bass member of the oboe family, its construction and the requirement of a bassoon-sized reed mean that it is almost never played by oboists, and rarely in the “classical world” is it a doubling instrument, as it requires a dedicated non-oboist to temporarily join the oboe section.

I am genuinely fascinated to see how this edition fares, and look forward to studying it.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Was du jetzt an Schaudern überwindest

With the completion of the formatting of all the individual instrumental parts, it's time to dive in to the final formatting of the full orchestral score. In anticipation of which, here's another little sneakypeek.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ja ja... noch eine kurze Vorschau

Just to ensure all this project's multitudes of fans that I'm still alive and that the project is actually nearing completion, and in lieu of the next bloviatory post with my thoughts on the opera, here's another sneaky peek at the progress, from Klytämnestra’s entrance with her entourage. (As always, remember these are not final formatted and remain in rough form.)

Sunday, January 21, 2018


With the completion of full score proofreading last weekend (despite the addictive distraction of Amazon Prime's free streaming of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"), work on the individual instrumental parts begins. In recognition of which, here's a sneaky peek of Klytämnestra's entrance.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Eine kurze Vorschau (3)

Another sneaky peek. If I can get someone at Google to explain to me how to make the pictures zoomable... In the meantime, here's hoping your holiday season offers you the opportunity to "jauchz, und Ihres Lebens freuen."

Sunday, November 5, 2017

He, Lichter! Lichter!

Heavy work on the proofreading of the edition gets under way... in three different countries! No, I haven't any idea how that's going to work out or coordinate, but as my original post on this project points out, this is probably an act of insanity. And it seemed appropriate - lacking actual torches or an ancient Greek palace courtyard - to do it under the influence of candlelight. And the wine is Greek! See you on the other side.