Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

("Shiva's Drum")

Dan Welcher

Performing Ensemble: Piano with Orchestra
Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

My Piano Concerto, despite its programmatic subtitle, is a three-movement work in the standard format of fast-slow-fast. It is extremely colorful and dramatic. Because it calls for a rather large orchestra and has a duration of about 34 minutes, it would seem to fit neatly into the same category as the concerti of Prokofiev and Barber. But the nature of the soloist-ensemble confrontation, which is the essence of all real concerti, is different in this work. It is a Westerner?s attempt at illustrating in music some fundamental ideals from the Hindu religion in general, and the nature of the god Shiva in particular.

I have been involved for the past several years in a self-conscious expansion of my musical language and style, employing such diverse resources as Polynesian chant, Korean folksong, Balinese gamelan rhythms, and quotations and mannerisms from older Western music dating as far back as 700 B.C. This is nothing new in itself: composers have always drawn on sources outside of themselves to freshen and open up their language (Stravinsky and Copland being the most famous of the twentieth century examples). But in my Piano Concerto, I have not quoted any other music; nor have I borrowed Hindu scales or tried in any way to sound ?Eastern,? except, perhaps, for the ubiquitous pentatonic modes I use in nearly all my music.

What is different here is the presence of a philosophical model. The piano-as-protagonist, again, is not new: but this time, the protagonist is a complex deity who is at once creator, destroyer, and protector. The three movements of the work are named for the three elements of Shiva?s character that most define his function in the Hindu religion: Time, Fire, and Fate. The mythology at work here is deceptively simple: the world is created, the world is destroyed, the world is re-created through Dance?and Shiva is the driving force behind all of the action. Having said that, I wish to stress that this is not specifically program music: the forms are clear and lucid, and the work should be approached without attempts to ?follow the story? in a point-by-point fashion. What follows is a description of the progression of moods and themes; but governing that progression is a logical melodic/harmonic/formal scheme that is purely musical.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Composition Date 1994
Duration 34:00
Orchestration Solo Pno.; 3(Picc.) 2 2 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 4 1; Timp. 4Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere 11 June, 1994. James Dick, Piano, Round Top Festival Orchestra (Texas), conducted by Pascal Verrot.


I. Time
II. Fire
III. Fate