Normally, Heavy Vanguard has been about the album format, and giving significant releases of that size some much-needed attention. Today, however, we’re slightly tweaking that formula and instead covering a single composition: “Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima” by legendary (at least in modern classical circles) Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. For those unfamiliar with Penderecki, he’s a (still living) modern classical composer, whose contributions the world of music are arguably on par with those of Frank Zappa and Johnny Greenwood (who has actually done a collaborative album with Penderecki)—his influence is far-reaching, covering both the mainstream and underground in its grasp, regardless of genre or state of culture (e.g. “high” or “low”), with musicians like Luc Lemay of Gorguts citing his influence on their music. “Threnody” is often considered his magnum opus, and is a frequently talked about piece of modern classical music.

Composed in 1960 for 52 string instruments, “Threnody” is without a doubt one of the most disturbing pieces of music ever written.  Its composition rests on unusual extended techniques, such as hitting parts of the violin and playing on the tailpiece, and incorporates some aleatoric aspects (i.e. some freedom is given to the musicians playing during sections). This all comes together for a piece that is dissonant and downright scary. There’s a reason that parts of this piece was used in The Shining.

This Week’s Episode:

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This Week’s Piece:

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