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Oliver Waespi

Oliver Waespi

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General Info

Year: 2007
Duration: c. 30:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Beriato Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €220.00   |   Score Only (print) - €52.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Phnom Bakheng
2. Bayon
3. Preah Khan
4. Angkor Wat


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
C Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV

(percussion detail desired)



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The music of Temples evolved out of different sources of inspiration. The most important of them were four temples belonging to Angkor, a group of temple ruins in Cambodia. These temples represent several centuries of Khmer history, one of the most important ancient cultures of South East Asia, and are characterised by both Buddhist and Hindu influences. Furthermore, four biblical text fragments from the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, became more and more important during the composition process. Hence, each of the four episodes of the work is related to a biblical text and an Angkor temple.

Besides this architectural and spiritual imagery, a purely musical structure underlies the whole piece, namely a sequence of intervals which has an architectural analogy in the height proportions of the main towers of Angkor Wat. My aim was to combine an abstract fabric of musical relationships with the sensual and emotional impact these temples and their history made on me while visiting them.

Phnom Bakheng. "There is a time to be born and a time to die... "The music at the beginning is inspired by the old temple Phnom Bakheng, erected in the 9th century A.D., also referred to as "first Angkor". It is conceived as a temple-mountain, corresponding to the mythical mountain "Meru", home of the gods according to Hindu belief. The music describes the awakening of life, the variety of living beings, the birth of human civilisation. Low, seemingly undefined chords form the soil out of which long melodic lines begin to emerge. After a gradual increase in speed, a transition leads to a lively episode characterised by bright colours and flourish-like gestures. Later on, the music becomes overshadowed by darker colours, as if the sun was disappearing.

Bayon"... a time for war and a time for peace..." Mysterious chords build up the scene for the entry of the trumpets and trombones, placed off-stage near the audience and playing menacing signals with increasing intensity. This dramatic episode depicts the war, a consequence of the diversity between different people and cultures. The temple Bayon with its rugged skyline, an architectural masterpiece dating from Angkor's flowering period, contains many war descriptions on sandstone reliefs, leaving no doubts that the Khmer civilisation, like many others, was built upon a great deal of warfare.

Preah Khan "... a time to mourn and a time to dance..." A sequence of huge chords marks the entry into the temple Preah Khan, the "Sacred Sword". This temple, mysterious and partly overgrown by virgin forest, was erected as a sanctuary in the 12th century A.D. on a battlefield. After the dramatic conflict of the second episode, a dirge follows, some kind of procession. This ritual has a mournful nature at first, but becomes more and more hopeful after a sudden shift of tonality and a calm, solemn statement of the tenor horns. Later on, reminiscences of the first episode appear and lead to an increasingly joyful music.

Angkor Wat "... a time to tear down and a time to build ..." It is now, after both an outward and an inward conflict, that the re-building of something new becomes possible. This renewal is symbolised by the fascinating central temple Angkor Wat with its accomplished architecture. The motivic material of earlier episodes finds itself transformed and reappears in broad and luminous sound fields which bring the work to a close.

- Program Note by composer

Temples is set in a series of continuous, developing and simultaneous variations. An excellent example of Waespi's collaborative representation of other disciplines, the height proportions of the temples correspond to the pitch relationships of the main cell, and the eight off-stage instruments represent the eight principal gopuras of the temple Bayan.

Traditional Cambodian music and the instrumental music traditions of other southeast Asian countries are typically structured as a series of simultaneous variations to a central melody. Because of the unique nature of this type of variation, scholars, have labeled it heterophony, polyphonic stratification, or even idiomatic heterophony based on the unique nature of each simultaneously occurring variation. Melodies themselves are adjusted to suit the range of each instrument, and embellished appropriately based on their capabilities.

- Program Note from Teaching Music Through Performance in Band

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Perusal score
  • Waespi, O. (2006). Temples [score]. S.N.:S.L.
  • Wollam, Seth F. "Temples." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 1050-1060. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.