• Param Vir
  • Horse Tooth White Rock (1994)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

  • 3(pic:pic,afl)3(ca)3(bcl)2+cbn/4331/timp.4perc/hp.cel(pf)/str
  • 24 min

Programme Note

This work owes its inspiration to the story of the life of Milarepa, the great eleventh century Tibetan saint. The title Horse Tooth White Rock comes from the name of the mountain in Tibet where Milarepa attained enlightenment. My work, which is in two movements with an Introduction, follows the main motives of his life according to the following scheme:

An orchestral 'thunderbolt', a symbol and portrayal of Vajrayana (Diamond Path), the powerful esoteric discipline that leads Milarepa to transcendence and Enlightenment.

Movement I
After the death of Milarepa's father, his uncle and aunt ill-treat his family, annexing their property and reducing them to destitution. It is Milarepa's first encounter with the reality of intense suffering. Urged by his mother he leaves home to learn black magic, becoming in time a 'Great Magician'. By acts of sorcery he exacts a terrible revenge on those that preyed on his family. The results are inevitably death and destruction.

Movement II
Overcome by sorrow at the results of his wrong doing, Milarepa looks for a lama (monk-teacher) to find a true path out of suffering and evil. He seeks out Marpa, a highly evolved master, who initially appears harsh and terrifying, making impossible conditions and requiring Milarepa to undergo incredible ordeals and hardships. Milarepa walks a path of humility and gentleness, submitting to this discipline without anger, hatred and attack, and thus becomes cleansed of the impurity of past action. He gains the affection of his teacher and finally obtains from him the compassionate teaching and method that lead to enlightenment. Through meditation his life gradually awakens to a new quality of luminosity and deeper purpose. In a serene and moving scene he takes leave of Marpa as he begins a new life.

Horse Tooth White Rock was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra which gave the première performance in Bradford on 3 March 1994, with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies conducting. The work is affectionately dedicated to Hans Werner Henze.

© Param Vir


Preview the score


More Info