Keith Allegretti 



Elegy and Tarantella

for chamber orchestra (2018)


Program Note

While composing Elegy and Tarantella, I began to conceive of an extramusical connection between two seemingly unrelated genres. Elegies, typically sung or played at funerals, have potentially grotesque associations, simply through their reference to the dead. The Tarantella, meanwhile, similarly confronts our morbid fascination with the macabre, as this frenzied, ritualistic dance was traditionally associated tarantism in 15th to 17th century Italy, a psychological condition of “dancing mania” believed to arise from the bites of spiders.


Elegy and Tarantella juxtaposes these two musical sections of wildly different moods: a slow, flowing, dirge-like opening followed by an extended, energetic dance. The transition between the two is gradual and seamless, so that the listener cannot tell precisely when one ends and the other begins, effectively creating a single accelerating trajectory from beginning to end.


Duration: ca. 10 minutes


Flute (doubling Piccolo)
Bb Clarinet
F Horn
C Trumpet
Percussion (2 players; percussion instruments are not shared):
1: Maraca, Bass Drum, Triangle, Glockenspiel, 2 Tom toms
2: Vibraphone, Tam-tam, Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal, Tambourine
Single Strings

Performance History

April 25, 2018
Austin, Texas
University of Texas New Music Ensemble
Dan Welcher, conductor