Anthony Philip Heinrich

The War of the Elements

Lengthca. 8' long.
DifficultyModerately difficult, comparable to the Berlioz overtures.
CommentsFull title: THE WAR OF THE ELEMENTS/and the Thundering of Niagara/Capriccio grande for a full orchestra. A guaranteed wowser for college or community symphonies, as well as professional orchestras (see below for reactions to 1976 performance). Equally appropriate for pops and "serious" programs. Ideal for "Americana"-themed programs or as a fine, short example of program music. Don't have 6 flutists? 4 is just fine, and if absolutely necessary you can get away with 2, tho balances will suffer in the coda. About Heinrich and his style, see below.
SourcesScore and parts available from: Kallisti Music Press, 810 S. Saint Bernard St., Philadelphia PA 19143-3309. Phone: (215) 724-6511 Email:
Kallisti Music Press is a very small publisher of unusual and neglected scores.
HistoryAnthony Philip Heinrich (1781-1861). No performance known from Heinrich's day. First modern perf. (& probable premiere) by Buffalo Philharmonic under Michael Tilson Thomas on 1/18/76. Of that performance, the Buffalo Evening News (John Dwyer) under the headline "'Mighty Niagara' Roar Drowns Out Football" wrote: "The roaring premiere of early-American composer Anthony Heinrich's 'The War of the Elements'... made a joyful upheaval on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon... A big, splashy, surprisingly inventive work, with earlier felicities for clarinet, oboe, reed choir, flute and strings, leading to the wall-shaking pandemonium of the final cascade. The closing torrent brought a great roar from the audience, and the... work and performance must be counted a huge success."

Heinrich was the first fully professional American composer, and the first to establish a European reputation. He was an arch-Romantic whose Berliozian orchestration and idealistic instrumental demands kept his 38 orchestral scores from being heard except on rare festival programs during his lifetime, though these occasions were always greeted (both here and in Europe) with great interest and enthusiasm. "The War of the Elements" is explicitly programatic only in its coda, a tone-painting of Niagara Falls in which continuous flurries of 16th-notes in the violins and woodwinds (led by reinforced flute and piccolo lines) are punctuated by reeling syncopations from the brass and 6 independent percussion lines, culminating in an fff soli for timpani and bass drum just before the final chords.

ContributorAndrew Stiller, Kallisti Music Press Kallisti Web Page

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