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Der Heroszupfer (The Hero-tugger) — character study after Elias Canetti
for Andrew Glendening
Andrew Glendening, trombone
Der Heroszupfer (The Hero-tugger) is the eighteenth in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon characters from 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. This collection of works, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters and includes works for contrabass, violin, bass flute, ocarina, contrabassoon, glass harmonica, trumpet, percussion, bass saxophone, piccolo, organ, basset horn, and violoncello, among others. In Canetti's depiction of this character, "the hero-tugger potters around monuments and tugs on the trousers of heroes.... [He] jumps out, heaves himself skillfully onto the pedestal, and stands next to the hero.... He senses the greatness passing over to him and he shudders. But if he works hard... the day will come, the radiant day, when he will heave himself up in a powerful surge and, in front of the whole world, he will scornfully spit on the hero's head."
Der Heroszupfer was composed in July of 2019 for trombonist Andrew Glendening, who first performed the work on 23 January 2020 at Northern Illinois University.