Nyx by Esa-Pekka Salonen

Nyx by Esa-Pekka Salonen
On April 17 at the Barbican in London the UK premiere of Nyx by Esa-Pekka Salonen will take place. Alan Gilbert will conduct the new York Philharmonic. A further eight performances will take place across the globe with several different orchestras and conductors.

Nyx is Salonen’s return to the genre of pure orchestral music. His last work for full orchestra was Helix in 2005. It employs a large orchestra, and has exposed concertante parts for solo clarinet and the horn section.

View the score online here.

Salonen comments:
Rather than utilising the principle of continuous variation of material, as is the case mostly in my recent music, Nyx behaves rather differently. Its themes and ideas essentially keep their properties throughout the piece while the environment surrounding them keeps changing constantly. Mere whispers grow into roar; an intimate line of the solo clarinet becomes a slowly breathing broad melody of tutti strings at the end of the 18-minute arch of Nyx.

I set myself a particular challenge when starting the composition process, something I hadn't done earlier: to write complex counterpoint for almost one hundred musicians playing tutti at full throttle without losing clarity of the different layers and lines; something that Strauss and Mahler so perfectly mastered. Not an easy task, but a fascinating one. I leave it to the listener to judge how well I succeeded.

Nyx is a shadowy figure in Greek mythology. At the very beginning of everything there's a big mass of dark stuff called Chaos, out of which comes Gaia or Ge, the Earth, who gives birth (spontaneously!) to Uranus, the starry heaven, and Pontus, the sea. Nyx (also sometimes known as Nox) is supposed to have been another child of Gaia, along with Erebus. The union of Nyx and Erebus produces Day.

The work is recorded on the Deutche Grammophon label (479 0628). Leila Josefowicz is the soloist with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Listen here.

Nyx concert dates:

April 16 2015 - Irish Premiere

National Concert Hall, Dublin
New York Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert, conductor

April 17 2015

Nyx - UK Premiere

Barbican, London
New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, conductor

29 April 29 2015


The Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory, Russia
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Hannu Lintu, conductor

April 30, May 1-3 2015


The Firebird Ballet in 2 scenes

Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, US
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Esa Pekka Salonen, conductor

May 1 2015


Acht Brücken
Köln, Germany
New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, conductor

July 2 & 3 2015


Creative Chair
Tonhalle, Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
Manfred Honeck, conductor

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