Dead Elvis


by Michael Daugherty

Bassoon and chamber ensemble of 6 players
Solo Instrument with Ensemble
cl(or Ebcl if preferred) - tpt.trbn - perc(1): brake drum/2 bongo/c.bell/crot/ride.cym - vln.db - solo bsn (Elvis sunglasses and/or Elvis Las Vegas 1970's jumpsuit are optional)
Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva and Chuck Ullery, principal bassoonist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
First Performance

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Dead Elvis No rock and roll personality seems to have inspired as much speculation, adulation, and impersonation as Elvis Presley(1935-77). In Dead Elvis, the bassoon soloist is an Elvis impersonator accompanied by a chamber ensemble. It is more than a coincidence Dead Elvis is scored for the same instrumentation as Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat (1918), in which a soldier sells his violin, and his soul, to the devil for a magic book. I offer a new spin on this Faustian scenario: a rock star sells out to Hollywood, Colonel Parker, and Las Vegas for wealth and fame. I use Dies irae -- a medieval Latin chant for the Day of Judgment -- as the principal musical theme in my composition to pose the question, is Elvis dead or alive beyond the grave of Graceland? In Dead Elvis we hear fast and slow fifties rock and roll ostinato in the double bass, violin, and bongos, while the bassoonist gyrates, double-tongues, and croons his way through variations of Dies irae. Elvis is part of American culture, history, and mythology for better or for worse. If you want to understand America and all its riddles, sooner or later you will have to deal with (Dead) Elvis.

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