Der Maestroso

Complete Work Title: 

Der Maestroso — character study after Elias Canetti

Performance Medium: 

solo carillon



Date Composed: 

September-December 2022

Additional Information: 
  • Commission from the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America Franco Competition Committee (2022).
  • 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: 
  • 16 June 2023; St. Stephen's Church (Cohasset, MA) [premiere] — Guild of Carillonneurs in North America 80th Annual Congress

    Joseph Min, carillon

Program Notes: 

Der Maestroso is the twenty-first 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 maestroso, if he moves forward at all, strides on columns.... Wherever the columns settle, a temple takes shape, and the worshippers are there in the twinkle of an eye. The maestroso travels with a solemn dignity around the world.... He sits in a special compartment, all by himself, the adepts stand bare-headed in the corridor, while he has his musical score in front of him, marking with weighty strokes the things that only he can mark, and the others outside shudder at every stroke of his."

Der Maestroso was composed in September-December 2022 on a commission from the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America Franco Committee, and was first performed by Joseph Min at the GCNA Congress in Cohasset, Massachusetts, on 16 June 2023.