Gay Guerrilla

From Wind Repertory Project
Julius Eastman

Julius Eastman

General Info

Year: 1979
Duration: c. 29:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Open score, most commonly four pianos
Publisher: G. Schirmer, through Wise Music Classical
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Open Score (all performers read from score)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

When Eastman premiered Gay Guerrilla at his January 1980 Northwestern concert, he explained its title as well:

These names, either I glorify them or they glorify me. And in the case of 'guerrilla,' that glorifies 'gay.' ... A guerrilla is someone who in any case is sacrificing his life for a point of view. And you know if there is a cause, and if it is a great cause, those who belong to that cause will sacrifice their blood because without blood there is no cause. So therefore that is the reason that I use 'gay guerrilla,' in hopes that I might be one if called upon to be one.

Composed for any number of identical instruments but most often performed on four pianos (as it was at Northwestern), Gay Guerrilla begins slowly and somberly -- "like bells tolling," as concert curator Seth Parker Woods describes it. Over the course of 20 minutes it builds to a booming, brazen musical quotation of the Lutheran hymn Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God). Though Eastman's piece is instrumental, the original hymn includes the lines "And though this world, with devils filled / Should threaten to undo us / We will not fear, for God hath willed / His truth to triumph through us."

Eastman wrote Gay Guerrilla in 1979, ten years after the Stonewall riots and on the cusp of the devastating AIDS epidemic, as musicologist Luciano Chessa noted in his contribution to the book of the same name. Reflecting on this historical moment, Parker Woods points out that 1979 was just before "all hell broke loose" for the gay community, so that the precarious questions of "who could say what" and "who could come out" were newly fraught and unsettled.

- Program Note by Kerry O'Brien

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer