Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice (2018–2020)
for orchestra [or piano] (13′)

Orpheus and Eurydice is a solo piano piece in one movement. The piece is a tone poem of sorts, depicting the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which has been an inspiration for many composers, from Monteverdi to Gluck to Stravinsky. The story is about Orpheus, a gifted lyre player (already a good start for a musical setting) and it has all the highs and lows of a great opera: love, the two deaths of Eurydice, and a long search through the underworld.

Briefly, the story is about Orpheus, whose playing is so beautiful that birds and other animals are entranced by its sound. One day, he meets Eurydice and they fall in love. They are married and on the night of the wedding, a viper bites and kills Eurydice. Orpheus plays his lyre to lament Eurydice’s death and the gods have sympathy on him, allowing him to travel through the underworld (Hades) to rescue her. Orpheus travels for a long time through Hades and eventually finds her. He is allowed to leave with Eurydice — she will follow behind him — but only on condition that he does not look back to see her. Of course, only a few feet away from the exit, Orpheus loses his faith and looks back, causing Eurydice to instantly be swept back to Hades. Orpheus returns alone and plays his lyre to lament Eurydice again.

Available here on Craig Ketter’s New Music for Piano, along with other works by NYCC composers.

Scores: orchestra, piano