My Entry in the Carl Orff Competition

Orpheus 4

I composed a chamber work, a song in the tradition of the “Lieder” of the salon, called “Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes”.

It describes the moment in Greek mythology when Orpheus, leading his wife Eurydice out of the world of the dead, turns back to look at her, despite having been warned not to, thus losing her forever.   The lyrics are excerpted from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.  You can listen to it here (and follow the score further below):

Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes  –  Danny Ashkenasi  –  Baritone: Peter Clark

I composed this piece for the Carl Orff Competition.  So this is the moment I ask you to please go to their website and show my entry some support.  Because in addition to a select jury, the public vote determines whether an entry is chosen as a finalist.  You will find my entry listed either in the middle or near the bottom of the page (or maybe elsewhere yet, they seem to keep randomizing the order, but those have been the two consistent locations), or simply go directly to my designated entry page.  There you can give my piece a rating; you can even leave a review.  (And do listen to and rate other compositions too; it’s fun and the competition will then value your input more highly.)  You have until April 30.  Tell your friends and family.  🙂

Thank you.

The Carl Orff Competition included the following parameters for the composition:

  • “The text must be fully completed. It is only a part of the poem ”Orpheus.Eurydice.Hermes” not the entire poem. It can be in German, English or Spanish” (I chose the original German).
  • “The work must be between 4 and 6 minutes in duration.
  • The work must be written for solo baritone (alternatively solo soprano), harp (alternatively piano) and a frame drum. The singer should be able to play the frame drum”.  (I chose baritone and harp. I enjoyed writing for the harp again.)

Additionally, “the sculptures by Antje Tesche-Mentzen should serve as a source of inspiration”.  (Pictures of the sculptures are included in this post.)

Here is the excerpt of the poem “Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes” by Rainer Maria Rilke the Carl Orff Competition designated, first in German:


Sie war schon nicht mehr diese blonde Frau,

die in des Dichters Liedern manchmal anklang,

nicht mehr des breiten Bettes Duft und Eiland

und jenes Mannes Eigentum nicht mehr.

Sie war schon aufgelöst wie langes Haar

und hingegeben wie gefallner Regen

und ausgeteilt wie hundertfacher Vorrat.


Sie war schon Wurzel.


Und als plötzlich jäh

der Gott sie anhielt und mit Schmerz im Ausruf

die Worte sprach: Er hat sich umgewendet -,

begriff sie nichts und sagte leise: Wer?

Orpheus 6


And in English:


She was no longer that woman with blue eyes

who once had echoed through the poet’s songs,

no longer the wide couch’s scent and island,

and that man’s property no longer.

She was already loosened like long hair,

poured out like fallen rain,

shared like a limitless supply.


She was already root.


And when, abruptly,

the god put out his hand to stop her,

saying, with sorrow in his voice: He has turned around–,

she could not understand, 

and softly answered



Finally there was one more request, if not quite requirement, for the competition:

“It should also be noted that Monteverdi in his opera ”Orfeo” used a rhythm during the song ”Nehmt mich auf Ihren stillen Wälder” which corresponds to the initials of Carl Orff ”CO” in Morse code.

Orpheus 2

On the occasion of the renaming of the competition this is a fact which could be taken into account but is not obligatory.”

As you can see, the Monteverdi / Carl Orff morse code rhythm made it into the playing of the frame drum in my version, starting at measure 9:



Orpheus 5

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
This entry was posted in Arts-a-Poppin', Chamber Works, Literary Lyricism, Notes in the News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marian Weisberg says:

    I heard about this music through the EGPS website. It is very sensitive and with a lingering melody and a melancholy undertone. I thought it beautiful. Compared it to Guck,s Orpheus Has the same timbre.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Danny. Thank you very much for including me on your list. To be able to follow your Development as a VERY Talented young Composer whom I know since your birth and, am always astounded at how you keep getting better and better in your works, is amazing. If there are Awards to be given, you surely have earned and DESERVE one.
    Good Luck,

    Jonathan and Claudia in Berlin

    Liked by 1 person

  3. maryellen ashley says:

    Very beautiful with melancholy undertones wanting it to go on –like a 3rd act! congrats
    with admiration for youand your talent– which IS you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ryan says:

    Just so touching! Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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