Analysis Of Monody To The Victims Of Hiroshima

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Successful composers manipulate the musical elements to portray military conflict and emotional impact. A polish composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, composed an experimental piece, later titled Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, in 1960. The piece was originally titled 8’37” but was changed when he heard it being performed. Penderecki stated ‘I was struck by the emotional change of the work… I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims’ (Jamie-Leigh, 2010). Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima is composed for 52 stringed instruments and depicts the horror and tragedy of the bombing. The composer is successful in his ability to manipulate the musical elements, expressive devices, pitch and timbre, to portray the military conflict and negative emotional impact of Hiroshima.
Penderecki’s purpose of evoking emotions and relating to military conflict is evident in his manipulation of expressive devices, specifically though his use of dynamics. At 3:32, the violas begin playing very loud at ff. After this the other instrument groups have delayed entries with loud fortissimo dynamics. This is seen specifically at 3:32 to 3:45, when a violin and cello group begin to play but are not joining in at the same time. These delayed entries combined create a sense of high tension. The additional instruments playing increase texture and thus increases the volume. Due to these loud dynamics, an image of pain and horror can be heard. The delayed

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