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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE DROPPING OF ATOMIC BOMBS ON HIROSHIMA & NAGASAKI?

Year of composition: 2018-23

[Hiroshima Panels]

Commissioned by Santiago de Compostela Municipal Wind Orchestra with reason of its 170th Anniversary.

Length: 25 minutes

Scored for: large orchestra and fixed electronics

Opus 23 - AA232018

Movements:

i. Ghosts, 幽霊 (1950)

ii. Fire, 火 (1950)

iii. Water, 水 (1950)

iv. Rainbow, 虹 (1951)

v. Atomic Desert, 原子野 (1952)

vi. Bamboo Thicket, 竹やぶ (1954)

vii. Floating Lanterns, とうろう流し (1969)

Premiere:

First performance was given by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia in collaboration with the Santiago de Compostela Municipal Wind Orchestra, conducted by Casiano Mouriño at Galicia Concert Hall, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, May 11, 2018.

Score and parts in preparation.

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What do you think about the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia
Conducted by Paul Daniel



 

 

Brief notes:

Commissioned by Santiago de Compostela Municipal Wind Orchestra with reason of its 170th Anniversary. First performance was given by Santiago de Compostela Municipal Wind Orchestra in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia, conducted by Casiano Mouriño at Galicia Concert Hall, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, May 11, 2018. Written to the memory of victims of the nuclear attacks: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9 of 1945 respectively.

The Hiroshima Panels (原爆の図, Genbaku-no zu) are a series of fifteen painted folding panels by the collaborative husband and wife artists Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi completed over a span of thirty-two years (1950-82). Panels depict the consequences of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as other nuclear disasters of the 20th century. The use of traditional Japanese black and white ink drawings, sumi-e, contrasted with the red of atomic fire produce an effect that is strikingly anti-war and anti-nuclear. Each panel stands 1.8 meters’ x 7.2 meters. The paintings depict people wrenched by the violence and chaos of the atomic bombing; some wandering aimlessly, their bodies charred, while others are still being consumed by atomic fire. Dying lovers embrace and mothers cradling their dead children. Each panel portraits the inhumanity, brutality, and hopelessness of war, and the cruelty of bombing civilians. The people depicted in the paintings are not only Japanese citizens but also Korean residents and American POWs who suffered or died in the atomic bombings as well.

The title contains an open question for moral reflection. Starting from this assumption and taking as a cornerstone the work by Iri and Toshi Maruki, "What do you think about the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?" is organized around seven movements or miniatures that follow each other without interruption. These miniatures are:

i. Ghosts, 幽霊 (1950)

ii. Fire, 火 (1950)

iii. Water, 水 (1950)

iv. Rainbow, 虹 (1951)

v. Atomic Desert, 原子野 (1952)

vi. Bamboo Thicket, 竹やぶ (1954)

vii. Floating Lanterns, とうろう流し (1969)

To date, only those described below have been completed:

i. Ghosts, 幽霊 (1950)

It was a procession of ghosts. Clothes burned in an instant. Hands, faces, breasts swelled; purple blisters soon burst and skin hung like rags. A procession of ghosts, with their hands held before them. Dragging their torn skin, they fell exhausted, piling onto one another, groaning, and dying. At the center of the blast, the temperature reached six thousand degrees. A human shadow was etched on stone steps. Did that person’s body vaporize? Was it blown away? No one remains to tell us what it was like near the hypocenter. There was no way to distinguish one charred, blistered face from another. Voices became parched and hoarse. Friends would say their names, but still not recognize each other. One lone baby slept innocently, with beautiful skin. Perhaps it survived, sheltered by its mother’s breast. We hope that at least this one child will awaken to live on.

iii. Water, 水 (1950)

There were mountains of corpses, piled with heads at the center of the mound. They were stacked so their eyes, mouths, and noses could be seen as little as possible. In one yet uncremated mound, a man’s eyeball moved and stared. Was he still alive? Or had a maggot moved his dead eye? Water! Water! People wandered about, searching for water. Fleeing the flames, crying for water to wet their dying lips. An injured mother with her child fled to the riverside. She slipped into deep water, scrambled along the shallows. Running as the raging fire engulfed the river, stopping now and then to wet her face, she ran on until finally she came to this spot. She offered her child a breast, only to find it had breathed its last. The twentieth-century image of madonna and child: an injured mother cradling her dead infant. Is this not an image of despair? Mother and child should be, must be a symbol of hope.

iv. Rainbow, 虹 (1951)

A naked soldier stood with only his boots and sword. Young soldiers with broken arms and crushed legs. The injured ran aimlessly, their ragged skin covered with blankets. There was no sound, just dead silence. Then a crazed soldier pointed to the sky and shouted over and over, “An airplane! A B-29!” There was not a shadow of an airplane to be seen. Injured horses, frenzied horses ran amuck. American airmen, who came to bomb Japan, had been seized and placed in a Hiroshima barracks. The atomic bomb killed friend and foe alike. Two soldiers lay crumpled on the road near the dome, their wrists still handcuffed. The smoke and dust blown high into the air formed a cloud, and soon large raindrops poured down from the otherwise clear sky. A rainbow arched across this blackened dome. The seven-colored rainbow shone with brilliance.

 

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