• Tan Dun
  • Earth Concerto for stone and ceramic percussion with orchestra (2009)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)

Performance restrictions apply

  • 2+pic.2.2+bcl.2+cbn/ (
  • 4perc; 2222/2221/timp/hp/str (
  • 4perc

Programme Note

Commissioned by Musik-Festival Grafennegg for the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich. The third work in Tan Dun's Organic Music Trilogy with the Water Concerto and Paper Concerto (see More Info tab for links).

EARTH CONCERTO “The Sound of Earth” commemorates the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s birth

Percussionists provide their own Earth Instruments from local sources.

Composer note
Throughout my life, I have always considered Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) to be my favorite. The words were drawn from famous Tang Dynasty wandering poets, most prominently Li Po, and it was composed with such passion and beauty that it has always been an inspiration to me. In Das Lied von der Erde what strikes me most was the drinking song between Mahler and Li Po intoxicated by rice wine, lamenting the shortness of youth and life and embracing the sunrise and sunset of human existence. The depth of their misery and spiritual toil strikes my heart and mind. In commemoration, I created Earth Concerto in dialogue with Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Earth Concerto follows as the third piece in my Organic Music Series after Water Concerto and Paper Concerto. I believe that the earth and all other natural elements hold deeply a spirit, speaking with a language all their own while singing and vibrating alongside all beings. As the oldest Chinese wisdom states: humans plus nature always equals one. In harmony with this philosophy, I use the sounds of earth and stone instruments to symbolize the connection of the heavens and earth with the orchestra representing human beings. The antiphonal dialogue between the sounds of nature and the voice of human beings is, in my heart, the true song of the earth.

Earth Concerto is composed for 99 ceramic and stone instruments with large orchestra. It consists of three movements, the titles of which are similar to three movements from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde which in turn reference titles of LiPo’s poems. My first movement, “Of Youth,” relates to Mahler’s third movement, Von der Jugen; the second movement, “The Drinking Song of Earth’s Misery,” connects to Mahler’s first movement, Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde; and the last movement, “The Drunkard in Spring,” pairs with Mahler’s fifth movement, Der Trunkene im Frühling.

— Tan Dun


David Cossin and the New Jersey Symphony audition pots


More Info