Greek mythology is full of fantastic stories of epic battles, love, betrayal, honor, jealousy and revenge. Entire generations of composers have been inspired by them, and I too cannot escape the charm of these stories.
The orchestral piece "Hydra" tells the story of Heracles' fight against the Hydra, which goes something like this:
"After Heracles killed the Nemean lion, King Eurytheus sent him to kill the Hydra, which Hera had bred to kill Heracles. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the toxic fumes and shot incendiary arrows into the Hydra's cave, from which it usually only emerged to terrorize neighboring villages.
He then faced the Hydra, armed with a sword. But every time he cut off one of its heads, two new ones grew back. Realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra this way, he asked his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew had the idea of using a burning branch to singe the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus burned out the open stumps.
When Hera saw that Heracles was winning the battle, she sent a giant crab to distract him. However, he crushed it under his mighty foot. Heracles cut off the last, immortal head of the Hydra with a golden sword that Athena had given him. He buried the head under a large rock on the sacred path between Lerna and Elaius and dipped his arrows in the poisonous blood of the Hydra. And so his second task was completed."
Stylistically, "Hydra" is an onomatopoeic retelling of the story, with Heracles and Hydra each having their own theme that can be heard at crucial points. The hissing of the fire arrows and the cracking of the fire can also be heard, as well as the clicking of the giant crab's claws.
Instrumentation: 3/3/3/3 4/3/3/1 Timpani, percussion (3), harp, piano, strings
Length: 16 min
Computer generated recording