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Dead Elvis

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Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty

Subtitle: For Solo Bassoon and Chamber Ensemble

General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: c. 8:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Peer Music Classical
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $29.95


Full Score
Solo Bassoon
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
C Trumpet
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bongos, large and small
  • Brake Drum, large
  • Cowbell, large
  • Crotales
  • Ride Cymbal, large


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Dead Elvis (1993) was commissioned by Boston Musica Viva and Chuck Ullery, principal bassoonist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. It is more than a coincidence that it is scored for the same instrumentation as Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat (1918) in which a soldier sells his violin and his soul to the devil for a magic book. In Dead Elvis, the bassoon is Elvis (or perhaps an Elvis impersonator). Does this rock star sell out his Southern folk authenticity to the sophisticated professionalism of Hollywood movies, Colonel Parker and Las Vegas in order to attain great wealth and fame?

Dead Elvis goes far beyond this romantic Faustian scenario. For me, the two clashing Elvis images (the hip, beautiful, genius, thin, rock-and-roll Elvis versus the vulgar, cheesy, fat, stoned, Las Vegas Elvis) serve as a sturm und drang compositional algorithm. Further, my use of the dies irae (a medieval Latin chant for the Day of Judgement) as the principal musical theme of Dead Elvis signifies yet another aspect of the Elvis myth: some people believe Elvis is dead, while others believe he is alive and well in Kalamazoo. Perhaps the question is not whether Elvis is alive or dead, but why the phenomenon of Elvis endures beyond the grave of Graceland. Elvis, for better or worse, is part of American culture, history and mythology. If you want to understand America and all its riddles, sooner or later you will have to deal with (Dead) Elvis.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of South Florida (Tampa) Wind Ensemble (Matthew McCutchen, conductor; Fernando Traba, bassoon) 18 September 2022
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Wind Symphony Chamber Players (Rebekah Daniel, conductor; Octavius Hernandez, bassoon) - 29 October 2020
  • Stephen F. Austin State University Wind Ensemble (Fred J. Allen, conductor) – 17 October 2017
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Ensemble (Cynthia Johnston-Turner, conductor; Amy Pollard, bassoon) – 20 January 2017

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Daugherty, M. (1993). Dead Elvis: For Chamber Ensemble [score]. Peer-Southern Concert Music: New York.
  • Michael Daugherty website Accessed 1 January 2017