Overview

Decoding the composition
Back to Music Search

Commissioned by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, View From Olympus has become one of my landmark works. This double concerto takes listeners on a journey through the world of Greek percussion styles and playing techniques. The first movement features an adapted transcription of improvised Greek violin music (by Stathis Koukoularis), the second movement is a tribute to my two children, and the third movement is a wild depiction of the legendary Mænads celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance.

The world premiere was given by Dame Evelyn Glennie (perc), Philip Smith (piano), and the Halle Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Manchester, UK, 26 July 2002.

Commissioner - Evelyn Glennie (with funding from Victoria University of Wellington)


I. The Furies

II. To Yelasto Paithi

III. Dance of the Mænads

IV. Fragment (encore for 2 soloists)


The Furies were avenging spirits of retributive justice whose task was to punish crimes outside the reach of human justice. Their names were Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone. This movement contains an adapted transcription of a fragment of improvised playing by one of my favourite Greek violinists, Stathis Koukoularis (it appears as a solo for violin about two minutes into the movement).

To Yelasto Paithi (The Smiling Child) is the closest I’ve come to expressing — in a way not possible with the spoken or written word — the feelings inspired by my precious children, Emanuel and Zoe. In this movement is also caught the summer I spent working on the concerto at my parents’ house just outside the village of Nea Michaniona – a house perched on a cliff which looks down on the Aegean and up to Mount Olympus.

Draped in the skins of fawns, crowned with wreaths of ivy and carrying the thyrsos — a staff wound round with ivy leaves and topped with a pine cone — the Maenads roamed the mountains and woods, seeking to assimilate the potency of the beasts that dwelled there and celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance. The human spirit demands Dionysiac ecstasy; to those who accept it, the experience offers spiritual power. For those who repress the natural force within themselves, or refuse it to others, it is transformed into destruction, both of the innocent and the guilty. When possessed by Dionysos, the Maenads became savage and brutal. They plunged into a frenzied dance, obtaining an intoxicating high and a mystical ecstasy that gave them unknown powers, making them the match of the bravest hero.

Forming an optional encore to the concerto is Fragment (percussion version), for vibraphone and piano, for vibraphone and piano.

Purchase

See below for available products
No items found.

Watch and Listen

A curation of Performances, interviews and reviews of my work

In Focus:

View from Olympus (piano/percussion/audio - 2019 version)

Performance Notes, Articles, Reviews, John's Messages

Project Details

View from Olympus (piano/percussion/audio - 2019 version)

for Solo Percussion, Solo Piano, and Digital Audio

Difficulty Level:
Duration:
20:30
Type:
Arrangement
Instrument Tags:
Vibraphone
Marimba
Simtak
Dulcimer
Bass Steel Drums
Steel Drums
Chimes
Bell Tree
Mark Tree
Triangle
Finger Cymbal
Octobans
Tom Toms
Cymbal
Crash Cymbal
Splash Cymbal
China Cymbal
Hi-Hats
Mixed Percussion
Mallet Percussion
Piano
Percussion
Piano/Keyboards
Digital Audio

Full Instrumentation

Solo Percussion: vibraphone, marimba (5-octave instrument), simtak, dulcimer (santouri), bass steel drums, wind chimes (2 or 3 sets), bell tree, mark tree, triangle, finger cymbals, drum station (4 octobans, 4 tom toms, cymbals (trash, splash, medium crash, china crash and a cluster of smallest-possible splash cymbals), hi-hat)

Solo Piano (should be amplified)

Audio Playback System

Score and Recordings

Score

Includes:

Score
Music Hire Set
Solo Percussion part (download)
Solo Piano part (download)
Solo Composite part - solo piano and solo percussion (download)
Study Score
Teacher’s Score for School’s
Learning Guide for Teacher’s and Students
Student Workbook Scores

Recording

View From Olympus Official Playlist

Resources

RESEARCHERS: EXPLORE VIEW FROM OLYMPUS CONCERTO FOR SOLO PERCUSSION, SOLO PIANO, AND ORCHESTRA AT THE ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY

INTERVIEW WITH PERCUSSIONIST JEREMY FITZSIMONS PRIOR TO HIS FIRST PERFORMANCE OF VIEW FROM OLYMPUS

FULL SCORE (PHYSICAL COPY)

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF FULL SCORE