Achilles and Scamander

Robert Rival
Robert Rival
Composition Date: 2012
Duration: 00:08:00
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 2 x Flute
  • 2 x Oboe
  • 2 x Clarinet
  • 2 x Bassoon
  • 4 x Horn
  • 2 x Trumpet
  • 3 x Trombone
  • 1 x Tuba
  • 1 x Timpani
  • 2 x Percussion
  • 1 x Harp
  • 1 x Unspecified bowed strings
  • 1 x Full orchestra
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Premiere Information:
Winspear Centre
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Julian Kuerti


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1100 R616ach
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Full Orchestra (20 or more)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • February 7, 2013
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (30 p.) ;
    30 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • ‘O Achilles, your strength is greater, your acts more violent than all men’s; since always the very gods are guarding you.
    If the son of Kronos has given all Trojans to your destruction, drive them at least out of me to the plain, and there work your havoc.
    For the loveliness of my waters is crammed with corpses, I cannot find a channel to cast my waters into the bright sea since I am congested with the dead men you kill so brutally.
    Let me alone, then; lord of the people, I am confounded.’
    —Homer’s Iliad, Book 21, lines 214-21

    With these words, Scamander, the river god, implores a rampaging Achilles to take his fight elsewhere. But in vain. And so ensues a dramatic battle between god and mortal, the former roiling his waters in an effort to drown the transgressor, the latter saved only by the intervention of another god, Hephaestus, forger of Achilles’s shield, who lays waste to Scamander by raining fire upon him, thus allowing Achilles to carry on the slaughter.
    This episode inspired in me a short tone poem. I depict Achilles with a muscular theme in the horns that rises up across the instrument’s entire range, punctuated by the jabs of his sword and his shrill war cry. Scamander’s theme, in the bass trombone, rises up, too, as if from the depths of the river itself. A subsidiary motive represents Achilles chasing his victims through the water—and later fleeing its surging waves. Hephaestus makes a late but extraordinary entry.
    The Iliad stimulated my imagination like no other literary work has done in a long time. The musicality of its language—the poetry’s rhythm, the extended similes, the repetition—drew me into another world. But so did the sweep of the narrative, the long descriptions and digressions, and, especially, the striking relationship between mortals and gods.

    Commissioned by: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

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