Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis

Composer | Professor | Producer | Guitarist

Brittle Fracture

for orchestra (2013) / / timp. + 3 perc. / hp / pno / strings
7 minutes

Premiered by the American Composers Orchestra, George Manahan conducting, at the 2014 New York Philharmonic Biennial.

Recorded by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (Kringkastingsorkestret), conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya, on the album Journeys: Orchestral Music from Five Continents (2021, Naxos Classical).

Score and parts available for rental (PDF or hard copy). Send an inquiry through the Contact page.

Perusal score

click here to view perusal score online (full orchestra version)

Brittle Fracture

for chamber orchestra (2013)
1111 / 1110 / 1 perc. / pno / strings (min. 11111)

Commissioned and performed by the CUNY Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME)

A full recording of the "chamber orchestra" version can be streamed below.

Recorded live by the CUNY Graduate Center Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Whitney E. George, on June 15, 2013 in Elebash Hall, New York (live recording of World Premiere).

Score and parts available for rental (PDF or hard copy). Send an inquiry through the Contact page.

Perusal score

click here to view perusal score online (chamber orchestra version)

Program note

In the field of materials science, the study of fracture mechanics makes a fundamental distinction between fractures that occur at different levels of tensile stress. In the case of brittle fracture, there is little or no apparent plastic deformation before failure occurs; in other words, cracks travel so fast that it is often impossible to tell when the material will break.

Brittle Fracture attempts to depict this type of structural failure in musical terms. Inspired by modulation and temporal manipulation techniques commonly employed in pop music production, the piece is based on a simple four-note piano theme that is performed as if it were being processed through an echo unit. The piano’s resulting spectral content is selectively captured, extended, and transformed by the orchestral instruments, effectuating a long-range rhythmic, melodic, registral, articulative, and dynamic intensification. Throughout this textural crescendo, the music undergoes various types and degrees of stress that attempt to disrupt the constant musical flow. At the peak of the process the music finally buckles under its own weight, causing an abrupt rupture in the structure. A series of these fractures occurs, slicing between two contrasting musical surfaces until the inevitable and complete dissolution of their constituent materials.

Performance History

Symphony orchestra version

World & US premiere:
• June 7, 2014 | NY Philharmonic Biennial | American Composers Orchestra | George Manahan, conductor | New York, NY, USA

Canadian premiere:
• January 23 & 24, 2016 | Victoria Symphony | Alexander Prior, conductor | Victoria, BC, Canada

• August 13, 2014 | Spokane Symphony Orchestra | Eckart Preu, conductor | Spokane, WA, USA
• January 31, 2015 | Florida State University Symphony Orchestra | Matthew Bishop, conductor | Tallahassee, FL, USA
• November 14 & 15, 2015 | Stamford Symphony Orchestra | Kevin Rhodes, conductor | Stamford, CT, USA
• April 2 & 3, 2016 | University of Western Ontario Symphony Orchestra | Shalom Bard, conductor | London, ON, USA
• January 26, 2019 | Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra | Bramwell Tovey, conductor

Chamber orchestra version

World & US premiere:
• May 8, 2013 | CUNY GC Contemporary Music Ensemble | Whitney E. George, conductor