The Elephant from Celebes

John Woolrich (1954)

The Elephant from Celebes 2005

3333 - 4331 - timp - perc(2) - strings
Duration 
20
Genre 
Publisher 

A friend once said that my music reminded her of Max Ernst’s painting ‘Celebes’, or ‘The Elephant Celebes’. In it a hulking creature, part machine and part elephant, stands on a vast plain, gazing at a headless female nude. In the cloudy sky two fish are swimming and trails of smoke suggest that an aircraft has just been shot down. Ernst partly derived the image from a photograph of a corn storage bin used by a tribe in Sudan which reminded him of a playground chant he remembered from school: ‘the elephant from Celebes/ has sticky yellow bottom grease’. Celebes is a large island in Indonesia next to Borneo.

John Woolrich

Performances 
9.8.05: Snape Proms, Snape Maltings: Britten-Pears Orchestra/Paul Daniel
26.6.07 St John's Smith Square, London: Kensington Symphony Orchestra/Russell Keable
9.1.08 Cardiff: BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Luke Dollman
3
Flute
3rd piccolo
3
Oboe
3rd cor anglais
3
Clarinet
3rd bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
2
Percussion
piccolo side drum, xylophone, hi-hat, 2 sleigh bells, cymbals, cabasa, vibraslap, 2 bongos, 2 splash cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, guero, side drum, Peking Opera gong, 8 tom-toms (with a wide range of pitches) sandblocks
(Esc)