Enuma elish

Date: 1980

Instrumentation: organ

Commission: Karel Paukert

Dedication: For Karel Paukert

Premiere: 4/24/81. Karel Paukert, organ. 2nd Annual New Music Festival. Bowling Green State University.

Duration: 10′45″

Publication: contact composer

Supported in part by funding from the Ohio Arts Council

Reviews: “Three of the most compelling works for instruments alone took their inspiration from cultures either historically or anthropologically remote from our own. Marilyn Shrude’s Enuma Elish for mechanical action organ (1980), which received its first performance at the Festival, is a programmatic work based on the ancient poem of the same name. The poem relates the Babylonian myth of creation. The masses of sound exploring shifting densities and registration are reminiscent of parts of Ligeti’s Volumina, but are used here in new ways and in a fresh context established by the work’s program. The gradual build-up of sonority that opens the work, emerging out of silence, had an effect on me similar to that in the “creation” represented at the beginning of Das Rheingold. The unconventional performance techniques involved are fascinating in themselves and, for me, served to enhance the program: numerous small wooden wedges were used to hold down keys to create sustained sonorities. Two assistants to guest organist Karel Paukert were needed to insert and remove the wedges. These activities bore resemblance to what one could imagine as the rather cumbersome performance techniques used for ancient and early medieval organs with sliders. Through the information supplied in the program notes, the sonorities and unusual performance activities themselves evoked visions of antiquity, but I suspect that the full impact of the work will only be felt by comparing the score with the poem that inspired the music’s creation. The score for this work should be especially interesting, and I hope it will soon be available.” Lance Bruner. Perspectives of New Music. Fall-Winter 1980. Spring-Summer 1981.

“It is highly pictorial in a space-saga sort of way, and exploits the organ’s resources most skillfully.” Finn, Robert. The Cleveland Plain Dealer. 10/12/81.