This is a programmatic work depicting Genghis Khan and his army on the move. The opening theme "Warlord" represents Genghis Khan which is followed by the "Horseback" theme (comprised of an A and B section) starting in measure 22. These 3 musical representations are used throughout the piece creating a musical "campaign" complete with a serene village scene (measures 79-89) just before its decimation. Most of the work is at a brisk tempo combined with energetic rhythms and driving percussion which continuously propel the music urgently forward. Extreme dynamic contrasts throughout the piece contribute to the emotional turbulence. Genghis Khan and his army ended the lives of thousands of people and his "Warlord" theme with great force, ends this work.
Genghis Khan (1165-1227)
Genghis Khan (more properly known as Chinggis Khan) was one of historyís most brutal, charismatic and successful warlords. He was a strategic genius. With his highly disciplined and effective army, Khan conquered more territory than any other conqueror creating an empire which continued to expand even after his death becoming the largest contiguous empire in history. Though many of his campaigns were in conquest of territory and riches, just as many were often a matter of retaliation.
His non-military feats included the introduction of a writing system which is still used in Inner Mongolia today (Uighur script), an empire and society which stressed religious tolerance and the Mongol nation which would not exist today if not for his campaigns.
Notes to the Conductor
In places the percussion - gong, bass drum & taiko drum (the opening in particular), are to be played loud just like you were in a palace introducing the entrance of Genghis Khan. The bundle sticks part used throughout the piece is meant to sound different in each section it is heard. The time to change sounds is marked in the part with a suggested change, like on the rim, on the snare with snare off, ect. But that is by no means engraved in stone. The particulars are left to you as a way to creatively enhance each passage in whatever way you see fit. When itís a soft passage, a higher sound and a loose setting on the bundle sticks will tend to sound better and a lower and tighter adjustment will sound better in the loud or warmer sections. Then ending section is marked normal snare with normal sticks and that will probably be best but again, I will leave the final decision to you.
Adjustments will always be necessary depending on the size of the band and the number of percussion players and instruments at your disposal.
The percussion plays an integral part throughout KHAN but only during the "Warlord" theme should it be bombastic. In the first 3 measures the percussion can indeed be nearly as loud as they can play. Other than that, the percussion should always be heard or felt but never over power or bury the band.
The gong part calls for one gong however, if you have a Chinese or small ceremonial gong and players at your disposal, 2 gongs playing the identical part would be a nice addition. It would also be possible to use that small gong in place of the suspended cymbal part, which only occurs a few times.
Grade 5 Length- 6 minutes
Composed for Ray E. Cramer
"It is not sufficient that I succeed - all others must fail."