THE EAGLE & THE SERPENT
For Junior Wind Ensemble
Duration: 7 minutes
The Mexica people of Central America were a savage and warlike tribe, who were forced to flee their homeland in A.D. 1319. They fled to the city of Culhuacán, where they were enslaved and used as mercenaries by their Culhua captors.
Many years later, the Mexicas escaped from the Culhuas and began a journey to find new lands and territories. Legend tells that after some time, they found an island in the middle of a lagoon, but their god told them that they must continue their search until they found another island, on which they would see an eagle perched on the branches of a cactus, devouring a serpent.
They obeyed the wishes of their god, and in A.D. 1345, they found the island as the god had prophesied. They knew then that their long journey was over, and it was here that they built a great city and shrine to their god. The city was named Tenochtitlan (Place of the Fruit of the Cactus) and became the capital and centre of what is now known as the Aztec Empire,
The eagle and the serpent represent the sky and the earth which were of immense importance to the Aztecs in their religious beliefs. They believed that their gods controlled the Sun, Moon, stars and elements.
1. Huitzilopochtli - God of Sun and war
His name means The Warrior of the South brought back from the Dead. Aztecs believed that warriors who died formed part of the sun, and after four years were reincarnated as humming birds. The sun was of great importance to the Aztecs, and they believed that it was necessary to provide the Sun God with regular human sacrifices, in order to ensure that he gave them light and warmth, so that their crops would flourish and ripen.
2. Quetzalcoatl - God of the Morning and Evening Star
His name means Feathered Serpent. As the morning and evening star, Quetzalcoatl was seen as a symbol of death and resurrection. He was also considered to be a wind god, and his temples were circular, to ensure that they offered no obstacle to the passage of the wind.
3. Chalchuitlicu - The Water Goddess
She was the goddess of rivers and streams, who had provided light and warmth to the Earth for hundreds of years. The other gods grew angry that she gave the gift of fire to Humans, and the Black God, Tezcatlipoca tormented Chalchuitlicu so much, that she burst into tears. Her tears rained down upon the Earth and the land disappeared beneath a mighty flood, from which only one family escaped to continue the human race.
4. Tlaloc - The Rain God
Tlaloc was greatly feared by the Aztecs. They believed that he controlled the rains that helped their crops grow, but if provoked, he would hurl lightning upon the earth and cause hurricanes to destroy their crops and buildings. He was pictured as a man, wearing a crown of heron feathers, carrying rattles to make thunder.
Publisher: Studio Music
Fls. 1.2, Obs. 1.2 (Opt.), Bb Cls. 1.2, Eb A. Sax., Bb Ten. Sax.,
F Horn (Opt.), Bb Tpts. 1.2
Unison Bass Line - Bb B. Cl., Bssn., Eb Bar. Sax., Trb., Euph., Tuba,
Perc 1.2. (2nd Perc - Tuned)
This piece was written for the Studio Music "Prelude Plus" Series. The series seeks to address the problems caused by imbalances in instrumental forces in junior bands and as such, the lower end of the ensemble plays a unison bass line (in octaves where necessary).
Within the bass line the instrumentation is varied, but always cued in all other parts. Likewise, the oboes and F horn parts are also optional, and cued elsewhere.
I have made no attempt at authenticity with this piece. I simply took the names and characteristics of four Aztec Gods and wrote musical portraits of them.
While I do not know of any commercial recordings of this piece, sample excerpts are available from the publisher.