Die Königskünderin

Complete Work Title: 

Die Königskünderin (The King-proclaimer) — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo trumpet




to John Holt

Date Composed: 

April 2006

Additional Information: 
  • Included on the CD Facets 3 — New American Music for Trumpet (Crystal CD-768, 2009).
  • 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)

    Christopher Scanlon, trumpet

  • 8 March 2019; Texas A&M University, Commerce (Commerce, TX)
  • 7 March 2019; University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
  • 11 April 2018; Moody Performance Hall (Dallas, TX)
  • 2 April 2018; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 20 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 19 September 2016; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 7 March 2011; University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
  • 6 March 2011; Voices of Change Salon Concert (Dallas, TX)
  • 17 October 2006; University of North Texas (Denton, TX) [premiere]

    John Holt, trumpet

Program Notes: 

Die Königskünderin (The King-proclaimer) is the eighth in a series of short works for solo instrument based upon 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. 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 King-proclaimer has something majestic about her.... She is tall and stately and her supply of scorn is inexhaustible. She can tell underlings by the least gesture and keeps them away from the king before he is even proclaimed."

Die Königskünderin was completed in April of 2006 and composed for trumpeter John Holt, who first performed the work at the University of North Texas on 17 October 2006. It is included on the recording Facets 3: New American Music for Trumpet (Crystal CD-768, 2009).  In 2022, the work was transcribed for double-bell quarter-tone trumpet for performance by trumpeter Connor Johnson.