The Destruction of Sennacherib


The Destruction of Sennacherib

“I was particularly impressed by Getty’s very dramatic setting of Lord Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib with its powerful rhythms and aggressive brass chords—quite different from everything else that had preceded it. Musically and dramatically, this is clearly a masterpiece, and should be performed regularly by American choruses. … I was blown away by it!”
Lynn René Bayley, Beauty Come Dancing
The Art Music Lounge, 2018

Full orchestra and chorus are summoned to “The Destruction of Sennacherib”, for this setting of the epic by George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824). It “begins with the Assyrian army stomping through you,” in the words of the composer. Getty marshals his trademark mastery of the individual instruments and sections of the orchestra, including harp and chimes, making advances on 20th-century chromatic modulations and anguished voicings. “But it’s an extremely beautiful poem,” he insists, “and the ending is reflective.”

  • For SATB chorus or soloist and chamber orchestra
  • Duration: 3:40
  • Poem by Lord Byron

Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 percussion, harp, keyboard (celesta and piano), strings
Perusal score and text available upon request

Stream The Destruction of Sennacherib on the album: Beauty Come Dancing

Painting: The Defeat of Sennacherib by Peter Paul Rubens

Listen to “The Destruction of Sennacherib”
(Version for SATB chorus & orchestra)


See review archive

Another compelling change of scene on Lord Byron’s epic of “The Destruction of Sennacherib,” perhaps the most evocative of the masterful mustering of the individual sections and instruments of the orchestra apparent in some of Getty’s operatic writing. It’s arguably also the composer’s closest approach to advanced 20th-century chromatic modulations and anguished voicings.
Jeff Kaliss
San Francisco Classical Voice