The Great Greek Literature New Music Adventure

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From Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis: Leiden, Papyrus P. 510

No secret that Greek myths and literature have been inspiring new music pretty much as long as they've been around. From Gluck's Alcestis to Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, new works based on ancient stories buried deep in our subconscious have an absolutely magnetic appeal on composers and audiences alike.

But what's new in this venerable tradition? What's changed? What sounds the most compellingly new, and what links to future interpretations of these stories are being created today?

Well, we're glad you asked. Today the Brothers Balliett explore a handful of pieces that dive into Greek mythology and literature with stunning results. The great Greek god of yore Pan is given a voice in Mauricio Kagel's exceptionally humurous and eminently approachable chamber work for piccolo and strings, aptly named after the god himself. Thea Musgrave tackles a different figure -- Narcissus is heard in all of his vanity and beauty, and his would-be lover Echo is also present.

We're pairing these works with a version of Trojan Women that would please Euripides himself, a work by Anne LeBaron, and even some of the earliest notated pieces from history on Greek modes – trust us when we say that these pieces sound every bit as crazy as the newest music of today.

Pick up your Ovid or your Robert Graves and get cozy, because today we get ancient.