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Thread: Music based on Roman/Greek mythology?

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    Senior Member nefigah's Avatar
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    Default Music based on Roman/Greek mythology?

    Hello,

    I'm just getting into classical music--please forgive the question if it's obvious!

    A class I'm in requires reports on Greek/Roman mythology in post-1300 art. I'm curious if there is classical music that is themed on the subject?

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member Ciel_Rouge's Avatar
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    Holst - The Planets Suite. Refers more to astrology but also mentions names of planets which come from names of Roman gods like Mercury or Venus.

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    Member fox_druid's Avatar
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    I think there are plenty of them. Mostly baroque opera are about them; Hercules, Zoroastre, &c; till the humanist take place.

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Stravinsky's Persephone comes immediately to mind, as it's a myth in which I have particular interest - though I must say that on the two attempts I've made to listen to it, it just seemed like a bunch of more or less disconnected twiddles, plonks, toots, and bangs on a drum, to me. Certainly any connection between what I was listening to and this, one of the most profound classical myths, completely eluded me.

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    Member Alnitak's Avatar
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    The only thing I know about mythology, is that the guitar has been created by a bearded god and given to a naked guy.





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    Nefigah,

    Fox-druid is correct - many Baroque Operas indeed have classical mythology as their subjects.

    The first that comes to mind is Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (1607), an opera based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, a guy who attempts to rescue his dead lover Eurydice from Hades, ruler of the underworld. It's a really awesome story with a very sad ending.

    Anyway, check out the opera's wikipedia page - it has a lot of really good information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orfeo

    Hope I helped,

    Chopinistic

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    Albert Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane Ballet / Suites for orchestra

    Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Ballet / Suites for orchestra (can be counted for, I think.)

    I've seen both live performance conducted by Ashkenazy and Dutoit. Thanks for bringing up this topic which reminds me I must get the CDs.

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Interesting topic! (As unofficial memorial achivist of TalkClassical, I'd like to point out that) [T]his thread has a long-lost cousin, which can be found here.

    In addition to the works mentioned there, and those already brought up here, let me add:
    John Blow's opera Venus & Adonis.
    Henry Purcell's opera Dido & Aeneas
    Two citations for Prometheus-- Beethoven's ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, though not really an example of the best of Beethovenian inspirations, and Scriabin's orchestral work Prometheus.
    Berlioz' sprawling opera Les Troyens.
    A distant predecessor to Samuel Barber's work, Cherubini's Médée.
    Richard Strauss "opera topics" Daphne, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Elektra.


    Before I go, let me touch also on the issue of portions of works having a Greek/Roman mythological basis. I'm sure there are numerous examples, but the ones immediately known to me are the less famous "March & Procession of Bacchus" from Delibes' ballet Sylvia and the much more famous dramatic soprano role for Venus in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser.
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Good call on Berlioz!

    Les Troyens is a magnificent tribute to Virgil's own masterpiece.

    Also, Rameau's Zoroastre is set in Bactria--something of a minor innovation in a France wherein almost all operas were themed on Roman or Greek stories, drama, myths, etc.

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chopinistic View Post
    The first that comes to mind is Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (1607), an opera based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, a guy who attempts to rescue his dead lover Eurydice from Hades, ruler of the underworld. It's a really awesome story with a very sad ending.
    There is, as it turns out, an entire subgenre of operas on the Orpheus myth. Monteverdi's, Gluck's, and Offenbach's are the most famous, I believe. Debussy also had an unfinished crack at one, it seems.

    Talking of Debussy, the Prélude à l'àpres-midi d'un faune is loosely inspired by Greek myth by way of Mallarmé.

    Stravinsky wrote an operatic setting of Oediupus rex, and Britten's Rape of Lucretia is based on Roman legend.

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    Senior Member hpowders's Avatar
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    Funny! Les Troyens was today's project.
    Acute perception can be torturous!

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    An old thread, but I´ll supply with a few more, lesser known titles:

    Novak:"Pan", a large piano cycle: http://www.musicweb-international.co...iano_works.htm

    Carl Nielsen:"Pan & Syrinx", symphonic poem

    Szymanowski:"Demeter" cantata http://www.college.columbia.edu/core...ymanowski-1917

    Enescu:"Oedipe", opera

    Taneyev:"The Oresteia", opera

    Ibert:"Bacchanale" for orchestra

    Britten:"Young Apollo" for piano & strings;

    Foulds:"Hellas Suite" http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.d...f-ancient.html

    Rudolph Simonsen: Symphony no.2, "Hellas" http://www.classicalcdreview.com/777229.html

    Jules Mouquet:"La Flute de Pan", flute concerto (1906)

    Sterndale Bennett:"Naiades-Ouverture"

    Tartini: Sonata, Didone Abbandonata
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jan-02-2014 at 00:42.

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    Senior Member csacks's Avatar
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    The Ifigenias (in Aulis and in Tauris), by Gluck, based on Euripide´s tale about Agamenon´s daughter.
    Castor and Pollux by Jean Philippe Rameau, are he first to came to my mind

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Takemitsu: Orion and the Pleiades

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    The six existing symphonies based on Ovids's Metamorphoses by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf.

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