1924 – 1925   Antheil, George ...  Ballet Mecanique ...
1931  Edgard Varese   Ionisation ...
1939   John Cage   Imaginary Landscape ...
1941  Lou Harrison   The Song of Quetzalcoatl ...
1963  George Crumb   Night Music ...
1965  Darius Milhaud   Elegy for Pierre ...
1990  James M. Galvic   The Three Furies ..."

The Three Furies  is mentioned in a pivotal reference book on percussion, alongside other very well-known names:

From the Encyclopedia of Percussion, 2nd Edition (2007) by John Beck, Routledge Publishing

“The following list of percussion ensembles is an overview of significant contributions to the percussion ensemble literature from its inception until the early twenty-first century.

The Three Furies  Percussion Ballet

Dance of the Second Fury (not excerpted) begins with a thunderous roar of kettledrums, before continuing with an ominously-tinged seductiveness, very different from the assertiveness of the other Furies.

Mask of Agamemnon, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

The ballet ends with a Judgement scene leading to the final movement, where the Furies are transformed into the Three Benevolent Spirits (The Eumenides) through Orestes' taking personal responsibility for his act. It's a powerful story with many psychological - and philosophical  - overtones, and one that can be portrayed with even more power, in my opinion, through the medium of Dance.

- James M. Galvic      

Some additional notes on The Three Furies

The Three Furies tells this over two-thousand-year-old tale with a musical palette of traditional and unorthodox percussion instruments.

JamesGalvic.com    All images and music samples copyrighted.   Please contact me for reproduction/performance rights.

Musical excerpts

  • Dance of the First Fury3:47

  • The Three Furies/Curse of the House of Atreus3:25
  • Dance of Death4:37
  • Entrance of the Furies0:44
  • Dance of the First Fury4:32
  • Dance of the Second Fury3:51
  • Dance of the Third Fury3:35
  • Judgement3:01
  • The Eumenides6:51

  • Dance of the Third Fury3:21

Eastman Percussion Ensemble, John Beck, Conductor February 1991

Listen to the entire CD below.

CD performer: James M. Galvic, recorded by Phil Mann at Silk City Music Factory

The story is heady stuff, before and after Aeschylus penned the tale in his classic Oresteia over two thousand years ago. The music begins after Orestes' father Agamemnon has been slain, in the court now overseen by his widow Clytemnestra and her new lover.

The first movement (Curse of the House of Atreus) begins almost inaudibly soft, as the lights slowly come up to reveal the body of the former king. In this movement, court dancers with rhythm sticks swirl onstage, amidst the sound of such percussion "instruments" as terracotta flower pots, copper pots, wind gongs and trash can lids, that lend an exoticism - and decadence - to the proceedings.  Orestes discovers the truth about his father, and vows to kill his mother.

The second movement (Dance of Death) is a stately yet ominous pas de deux between Orestes and his mother, which culminates in his stabbing her. The music climaxes at this point and then dies down gradually, as an emotionally spent Orestes sags onstage, stricken by the enormity of his deed. It is here where he becomes aware that something truly terrible is about to happen to him (Entrance of the Furies).

Music composed by James M. Galvic

Metal sounds (brake drums from cars) play a prominent role in Dance of the Third Fury, along with the shrieking of metal bowls scraped by brass rods at the end to illustrate Orestes' dreadful confrontation with her.  It's a "fingernails on a blackboard" moment when it occurs.

A father sacrifices his daughter to win a war.

His wife kills him to avenge her daughter.

Her son kills her to avenge the death of his father, and three terrible Furies torment him for his deed.

Percussionist, composer, photographer

Dance of the First Fury at times is menacingly cacaphonous, with players trading a terrifying "wood-splitting" motif between themselves, above a driving rhythm. 

(Thanks to the Chrysler Museum of Art for providing the image for the jacket of The Three Furies CD, completed in 2017. You can visit the original painting on their website www.chrysler.org.)