Der Heroszupfer

Complete Work Title: 

Der Heroszupfer (The Hero-tugger) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo trombone




for Andrew Glendening

Date Composed: 

July 2019

Additional Information: 
  • This work is part of a collection of solo works based on character studies in Elias Canetti's book Der Ohrenzeuge (Earwitness).
  • Solo works from this collection may be programmed as a set, or 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 works as source material for improvisational interplay.

Performance/Broadcast History: 
  • 9 March, 2023; Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL)
  • 15 July 2021; Columbus State University (Columbus, GA) — 2021 International Trombone Festival
  • 23 January 2020; Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL) [premiere]

    Andrew Glendening, trombone

Program Notes: 

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, begun in 1997, was inspired by the vividly surreal depictions of Canetti’s characters, and comprises twenty-two solo works to date—composed for familiar instruments such as violin, guitar, piano, and trombone, as well as less common instruments such as ocarina, cimbalom, glass harmonica, and carillon.  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.