Destruction du monde is composed for a small orchestra comprised of piccolo doubling flute, flute doubling alto flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon doubling contrabassoon, two horns, two trumpets, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, piano, timpani, three percussionists, and chamber strings. The piece duration is 26 minutes. The title of the work is a play on Darius Milhaud’s ballet La Creation du monde. The instrumentation is similar to the Milhaud, the only additions being one horn, one trombone, tuba, viola in place of alto saxophone, and strings in threes rather than one per part. The form is similar only in that both pieces are in six parts or movements.
For his piece, Milhaud drew inspiration from African creationist legends as he depicts six scenes from the creation of the world. In my own piece I depict six scenes inspired by the account of the destruction of the world by humankind found in the book of Isaiah chapter 24, a passage that I came across in a state of despair when I turned to scripture after President Drumpf announced U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1, 2017. The first movement represents humanity defiling God’s creation; the second is the earth drying up and life depleting; the third the gates of a city crumbling; the fourth the floodgates of heaven opening to weep; the fifth a panicked dash from terror, fleeing pits and traps; and the final movement evokes the moon and sun extinguishing while the glory of the Lord remains forever.
The piece is polystylistic, blending both tonal and atonal sounds, utilizing extended techniques, and compositional characteristics range from jazzy, post-minimalist, and counterpointal to dodecaphonic at times. The piece relies heavily on the percussion section throughout, a deliberate decision of mine in order to embolden the section which I feel has the most untapped potential for color and energy in the traditional orchestral canon.
Destruction du monde premiered on April 7, 2018 performed by SMU’s Syzygy new music ensemble in Caruth Auditorium at SMU’s Owen Arts Center.
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Shawver, Alex, "Destruction du monde" (2018). Music Theses and Dissertations. 2.