Character Studies after Elias Canetti

Complete Work Title: 

Character Studies after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

various solo instruments


The following works are included in this collection:



Date Composed: 


Performance Information: 
  • The works in this collection may be programmed individually or in sets of two or more.
  • May be programmed in conjunction with the semi-improvisational, open-form works Canetti-menagerie (for five to eight instruments) or Conversations (for two to four instruments), which use these solo works as source material for improvisational interplay.

Additional Information: 

Based upon characters from Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere (Earwitness: Fifty Characters), written in 1974 by the Bulgarian-born British-Austrian writer Elias Canetti (1905-1994).

Performance/Broadcast History: 

Refer to the individual works in this collection for a complete performance history.

Program Notes: 

This series of short works for solo instruments is based upon the vividly surreal characters in Der Ohrenzeuge: Fünfzig Charaktere ("Earwitness: Fifty Characters"), written in 1974 by the Bulgarian-born British-Austrian novelist Elias Canetti (1905-1994). Canetti’s distinctive studies incorporate poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed wordplay to create fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior. Begun in 1997, there are nineteen works in this series to date, composed for piccolo, bass flute, ocarina, basset horn, contrabassoon, alto saxophone, bass saxophone, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, violoncello, contrabass, guitar, percussion, glass harmonica, cimbalom, piano, and organ. These works may be played individually or in various combinations, as well as in conjunction with Canetti-menagerie or Converations — semi-improvisational open-form works based on materials drawn from the solo pieces in this collection.