Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, published as a Christmas book in 1764, is the first and one of the greatest members of the Gothic novel genre. This work is credited with motivating the Gothic revival in the arts and served as the model in plot, characterizations, setting and tone for hundreds, perhaps thousands of successors. Editor E. F. Bleiler states, “The Castle of Otranto is not, of course, a great novel, and it would be absurd to claim greatness for it. But Walpole was an intelligent man and a lively personality, and his individual charm can be perceived in his novel. The question whether his horrors are truly frightening or simply ludicrous is a matter for the individual reader to decide.” The novel is full of sentimentalism and cheap emotion, hair-raising incident (often with supernatural overtones, e.g. a sighing portrait and floating giant helmet that crushes its victim), and a relentless pace. William Bootz commissioned, with novel in hand, a work for trombone and electronics inspired by this wealth of imagery. Among the arsenal of sounds on the tape are processed trombone, vocal, and bell (inspired by the novel’s church bells) sounds. A sense of castle’s vast interior is achieved through echoing techniques.

The Castle of Otranto (trombone, fixed media)  

duration: 10:00

score, parts, fixed media: stereo --CD, AIFF, MP3

written for:  William Bootz

Longleaf Catalog Number: 3299

price: $15