Agamemnon for solo horn by William Withem has been added to the IHS Online Music Library.

In Richard Strauss’ opera Elektra, the character of Agamemnon (Elektra’s father) was murdered upon his return home from the Trojan War. The opera focuses on Elektra’s plot to exact revenge against Agamemnon’s murderers.

Strauss represents Agamemnon with an ominous three-note theme that outlines a D minor chord. It first appears at the very beginning of the score, and is heard in various forms throughout the remainder of the opera.

As a hypothetical question, one may wonder what becomes of the memory of Agamemnon? Was he despised enough to be murdered, or should he be celebrated as a victorious commander of war?

That question, plus Strauss’ motive for Agamemnon, serve as the point of inspiration for this piece; a character and thematic exploration of the Trojan War commander. The motive is treated in various forms of altered rhythms and tonal qualities, set in contrasting sections. Each section relates to various aspects of the character: an opening call to summon his soldiers, a war march, a song to lament departing from one’s family in wartime, and a murderous dance of death.

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