Orchestra: flute/piccolo, oboe, Bb clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon/contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, keyboard (piano, DX7), [2 percussion: tom-toms, temple blocks, orchestra bells, vibraphone, marimba, sand blocks, suspended cymbal, bass drum, tam-tam (large), timpani (30'', 28'', 25'', 23'')], strings, slides (optional)
Commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Edwin London conductor
Premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, November, 1987
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What the Monster Saw is an orchestral fantasy based on part two of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. In this section of the book, the monster confronts Frankenstein. The monster relays his experiences in the world since the day of its creation. Rejected and spurned by Frankenstein, the monster, an innocent, is cast loose and forced to survive alone. Seized by a multiplicity of sensations, it first perceives the world in chaos and fear. Then it learns to distinguish and supply its basic needs (food, clothing, shelter). Finally it conceals itself in the dark corner of a forest cottage. There, by observing some cottages, it learns to speak, to read, to love. When, in search of companionship, the monster at last approaches people, they repel, even attack him. Tragically, he realizes that he is condemned to a lonely, alienated existence. The initial confusion senses in the monster transform into one single purpose -revenge.
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Adaptation from the opera Frankenstein.