Javelin (Torke)

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by Michael Torke
KeyA major
Performed4 September 1994 (1994-09-04): Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta
ScoringLarge orchestra

Javelin is a composition for orchestra by American composer Michael Torke. It was finished in 1994.


Javelin was commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics, which was about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered in the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Yoel Levi, on September 8, 1994.[1] It was also performed in the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics, which took place in Atlanta.[2] It was later published by Boosey and Hawkes.[3]


The composition is in one movement and takes approximately 9 minutes to perform. The composition is in the key of A major.[4] It is scored for a large orchestra. It has both the structure and the external appearance of an overture, even though it is not marked as such in the score. According to the composer, he had three things in mind when composing the piece:

  • The orchestra had to be used as a virtuosic instrument
  • The use of triads (three-note tonal chords) should be present along the score
  • The music had to be thematic

Even though it consists of 591 measures, the playful, fast tempo resembles the swiftness of javelins. The strictly tonal character of this composition has led some critics to compare the style used by Torke with other classical composers, rather than modern and contemporary composers. According to Torke, this is his "most John Williams-like composition".[1]


Merlin Patterson wrote an arrangement of this piece in 1997 for wind ensemble. It was recorded by the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble under Paul W. Popiel in 2013. The arrangement was commissioned by the University of Houston School of Music and conductor Eddie Green.[4]


This composition has been recorded several times by renowned conductors and orchestras:


  1. ^ a b Torke, Michael. "Javelin for orchestra (1994)". michaeltorke.com. Michael Torke. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. ^ Sparr, Donald J. "Michael Torke Javelin, overture for orchestra". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  3. ^ Simeone, Nigel (2012). Colourful Exuberance (Liner Notes in Michael Torke – Color Music 4784580). London, England: Decca Music Group Limited. p. 5.
  4. ^ a b "About this Recording 8.573104 – Wind Band Music – TORKE, M. / TICHELI, F. / COPLAND, A. (Landscapes) (University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, Popiel)". Naxos.com. Naxos Digital Services, Ltd. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Various Artists Javelin: The Music of Michael Torke". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  6. ^ "John Williams John Williams: Summon the Heroes". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Colin Currie Michael Torke: Rapture; An American Abroad; Jasper". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Ji Hye Jung / Steve Leisring / Margaret Marco / Paul W. Popiel / University of Kansas Wind Ensemble Landscapes: Torke, Ticheli, Copland". allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.