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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Elegy: Snow in June (1991)
G Schirmer Inc
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Tan Dun Elegy: Snow in June (1991)
The image of snow in June comes from a 13th century Chinese drama by Kuan Han-Ching, in which a young woman, Dou Eh, is executed for crimes she did not commit. Even nature cries out for her innocence - her blood does not fall to earth but flies upward, a heavy snow falls in June, and a drought descends for three years. Elegy sings of pity and purity, beauty and darkness, and is a lament for victims everywhere.

The work is a set of free variations. Beginning with sparse, searching phrases, it coalesces to the theme which emerges in the middle then disperses again. The voice of the cello opposes and joins four groups of percussion which each are given solo passages. The singing of the cello contrasts with the sound of tearing paper or the roughness of stones and cans.

Elegy was commissioned by the New Music Consort and was first performed by Madeleine Shapiro (cello) with Claire Heldrich conducting.

—Tan Dun

Sample Pages

  • NWCRI:
  • Soloist(s)
    Michael Carrera
[In] Tan Dun's ELEGY: SNOW IN JUNE, the audience was treated to an up-front view of a percussion ensemble at work, bowing the side of a cymbal placed on timpani, tearing paper, striking gongs and switching myriad mallets. It's likely the piece will become a staple of percussion ensemble repertoire.
Judith White, The Saratogian,01/01/0001
In ELEGY: SNOW IN JUNE, the singing quality of the cello line shares the spotlight with percussion scoring that is light and tactile at first but evolves into full-throttle rambunctiousness by the work's end.
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times,01/01/0001
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