Epitaph of Seikilos (2001)
for Clarinet (or Flute), Alto Saxophone, Euphonium
Duration: 4 min.
Dedication: for the LSMSA Chamber Ensemble, 2001-02
Commission: Commissioned by Al Benner for the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts
Publisher: Conners Publications
Epitaph of Seikilos (2001) was commissioned by Al Benner for the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. The work is based on one of the earliest notated musical compositions in the history of Western Music, the very brief Epitaph of Seikilos, an inscription (with musical notation symbols) found on a tombstone in Aidin, Turkey, dating to the first century A.D. The text (in translation from the Ancient Greek) of the Epitaph is as follows:
As long as you live, be lighthearted.
Let nothing trouble you.
Life is only too short,
and time takes its toll.
The trio falls loosely into three sections—the first is entirely based on transformations of the Seikilos tune’s pitch and rhythmic material even though the tune is never heard in its straightforward form. The second section, presents the unadorned Epitaph tune itself, over a drone. The final section is a brief coda as the music evaporates.