Rothko’s Red

Joyful tone poem exploring orchestral colour for full symphony

Symphony orchestra: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet in B flat, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B flat, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, harp, percussion (3 players), strings

Becky was interested to explore a musical technique similar to the visual one used by American painter Mark Rothko, well-known for painting canvases that each explored one colour.

Rothko’s Red is her exploration of shifting perception and attention to pure sound colour, using ‘Klangfarbenmelodie’, a musical technique that splits a musical line between several instruments. It is to music what pointillism is to painting, evoking a kaleidoscope of shifting colour, yet always recognisable, always ‘permanent.’ It is less about melody and rhythm and more about the sound of each beautiful type of instrument in the orchestra.

Rothko’s Red is intended to provide a deep sense of calm, bringing ever-changing instruments to the fore of their attention. It is a subtle work of joy.

Written in 2003, this 7-minute work for is suitable for professional full orchestra. It was commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for its 2004 Composers Workshop.

Listen to a sample of Rothko’s Red played by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Click to enlarge

Where to buy

You can purchase the score and parts directly from Becky by emailing her: