Elephant from Celebes, The


by John Woolrich

Orchestral, Full Orchestra
picc.2.2.ca.2.bcl.2.cbsn – 4331 – timp – perc(2): piccolo SD/xyl/hi-hat/2 sleigh bells/cyms/cabasa/vibraslap/2 bongos/2 splash.cym/BD/tam-t/guero/SD/Peking Opera gong/8 tom-toms (with a wide range of pitches)/sandblocks – strings

Commissioned by the Britten-Pears Orchestra with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

First Performance
9.8.05: Snape Proms, Snape Maltings: Britten-Pears Orchestra/Paul Daniel

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Commissioned by the Britten-Pears Orchestra with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. A friend once said that my music reminded her of Max Ernst’s painting ‘Celebes’, or ‘The Elephant Celebes’. In it a hulking creature, part machine and part elephant, stands on a vast plain, gazing at a headless female nude. In the cloudy sky two fish are swimming and trails of smoke suggest that an aircraft has just been shot down. Ernst partly derived the image from a photograph of a corn storage bin used by a tribe in Sudan which reminded him of a playground chant he remembered from school: ‘the elephant from Celebes/ has sticky yellow bottom grease’. Celebes is a large island in Indonesia next to Borneo. John Woolrich

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