Dragons in the Sky

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Mark Schultz

General Info

Year: 1989
Duration: c. 13:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Jomar Press
Cost: Score and Parts - $29.50   |   Score Only - $0.00


Multiple Percussion: Timpani, Marimba, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Chimes, Crotales, Bass Drum, Timbales, Suspended Cymbals, Maracas, Brake Drums
with Tape

Program Notes

Winner of the 1990 International Horn Society Composition Competition. Has been performed over 400 times worldwide since 1989.

An award winning composer, Mark Schultz holds degrees from The University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Texas at Austin. His compositions have been performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, and the Omaha Chamber Symphony. Schultz is also the co-editor of JOMAR press, based in Austin Texas. He has written numerous chamber works featuring the horn and other wind instruments, as well as large compositions for orchestra and concert band. Composed in 1989, Dragons in the Sky won the International Horn Society’s 1990 composition contest. Since its 1989 premiere by hornist Thomas Bacon, this work has been performed over four hundred times worldwide.

Dragons in the Sky takes its title and inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, a portion of which describes the “Great Battle” between the elves and Morgoth.

Then, seeing that his hosts were overthrown and his power dispersed, Morgoth quailed, and he dared not to come forth himself. But he loosed upon his foes the last desperate assault that he had prepared, and out of the pits of Angband there issued the winged dragons, that had not before been seen; and so sudden and ruinous was the onset of that dreadful fleet that the host of the Valar was driven back, for the coming of the dragons was with great thunder, and lightning, and a tempest of fire. — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, 2nd ed. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1977), 302.

Schultz draws upon Tolkien’s powerful imagery, creating an energetic and colorful work that allows all three parts (horn, percussion, electronic tape) to come to the forefront at different times. Constructed in three large sections, Dragons shifts between driving, rhythmic passages and slower, more ethereal portions. Percussion, horn, and tape weave fluidly in and out of the overall texture, often combining all three parts to create a sound color unattainable by any one voice alone. The computer generated tape plays almost constantly, stopping only twice for extended cadenzas from percussion and horn.[1]




Commercial Discography

Recorded by Thomas Bacon on Summit DCD 135

Online Recordings

Recent Performances

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Works for Percussion by this Composer

AshfallPercussion Duo; French Horn; Clarinet
Dragons in the SkyMultiple Percussion; Tape; Horn
Dragons in the Sky - Orchestra - Multiple Percussion; Horn, Orchestra
Dragons in the Sky - Wind Ensemble - Multiple Percussion; Horn, Wind Ensemble

Additional Resources

James Boldins Blog "On Performing Dragons in the Sky" - https://jamesboldin.com/2013/10/02/performing-dragons-in-the-sky-by-mark-schultz/

Analysis and Performer's Guide to Mark Schultz's Dragons in the Sky for Horn, Percussion, and Computer-Generated Tape - http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu%3A291311
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to analyze Dragons in the Sky for horn, percussion and computer-generated tape (1989) by American composer, Mark Schultz (1957-2015). Dragons in the Sky won the 1990 International Horn Society Composition Contest, and has subsequently been performed over four hundred times worldwide and recorded on three music labels: Summit Records, Hard Cor Music, and Sunset Music Australia. Because of the popularity of Dragons, a consortium of horn players commissioned Schultz to orchestrate the work for orchestra (1998) and wind ensemble (1999). Despite its fame, there is little information – published or unpublished – on the composer and his works. It is the intent of this paper to add to the relatively small body of literature on Mark Schultz and his compositional additions to the horn repertoire. Dragons in the Sky is a completely octatonic work and employs technology, in the form of computer-generated sounds, unique to the large mainframe supercomputers of the 1970's and 1980's. Although this paper was not intended as a historical source, the author includes biographical information on the composer. A performer's guide to Dragons in the Sky is included to aid those performing the work. Also, the author has included an annotated bibliography of Schultz's works for horn and a current discography.