Sonata for Horn and Piano
duration: 20’
GRT • 215

video (from 46:25)

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
I. Genbaku Dome
II. The Path (Motoyasu bridge)
III. One Thousand Origami Cranes (Children’s Peace Monument)
IV. The Path (Pond of Peace)
V. Memorial Cenotaph

At the end of World War Two, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August, 1945. To this day, they are the only nuclear weapons used in armed conflict. The extent of casualties is not exactly known but well over 100,000 died, mostly civilians. The war in Europe had finished some three months earlier and this would be the final event that ended the Pacific War. While there are many nuances to the moral interpretation of those events, the impact on civilians was harrowing and remains so.

The one thousand origami cranes were popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. She began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand, inspired by the ancient Japanese senbazuru legend that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. In Japan, the crane is one of the mystical or holy creatures and symbolizes good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years.

Sonata for Horn and Piano is the 18th in a series of sonatas written in the new millennium. It was composed in October 2019 upon return from a month in Japan where I was in residence at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village, also having visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The sonata is written for Carla Blackwood, my colleague at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. The premiere performance was given by Carla Blackwood and Stefan Cassomenos at Melba Hall, streamed digitally from 6 August 2020 – the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.