Ghosts of Troy was full of effective mood painting, with enormous bursts from the timpani and angry dissonance from the brass and winds.”
The Register-Guard (Oregon)

Inspired by Homer’s The Iliad, Boyer’s Ghosts of Troy is a tone poem which evokes key episodes from that Trojan War epic. The work was commissioned by the Oregon Mozart Players, and recorded as part of Boyer’s debut album with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2001.





Composition Date and Commission

Composed 2000
Commissioned by the Oregon Mozart Players with support from the Hult Endowment Fund

Critical Acclaim

“In some ways, Ghosts of Troy is the most impressive specimen [of the works on the LSO recording], because it shows the greatest stylistic and harmonic range.”
The Hartford Courant

“The six short panels of Ghosts of Troy further underscore [Boyer’s] command of orchestral effects and cinematic vocabulary.”
Tucson Citizen

View Performance History

— Premiered by the Oregon Mozart Players, Andrew Massey, conductor, at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene, November 4 & 5, 2000
— Performed by the Janus Orchestra, Peter Boyer, conductor, April 26, 2001
— Performed by the Filharmonia Sudecka, Eric Lindholm, conductor, Walbrzych, Poland, May 11, 2001
— Performed by the Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra, Grant Cooper, conductor, April 2, 2002
— Performed by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor, April 30, May 2 & 3, 2003 (four performances)
— To be performed by the Mission Chamber Orchestra of San Jose, Emily Ray, conductor, April 9, 2022
— Oregon Mozart Players premiere performance broadcast on KWAX, Eugene, December 2000
— Recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, Peter Boyer, conductor, at Abbey Road Studios, London, January 2 & 3, 2001; released on compact disc by Koch International Classics (#3-7523-2), June 2001; re-mastered and reissued on compact disc (and digital download) by Propulsive Music (PRM-607), June 2007
— London Symphony Orchestra recording broadcast on dozens of radio stations throughout United States since its release

Read Program Note

This work was commissioned by the Oregon Mozart Players, and premiered by them, conducted by Andrew Massey, at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on November 4, 2000. Ghosts of Troy is a tone poem inspired by Homer’s The Iliad, a rich source of inspiration for composers for centuries. In constructing the work, the task which I set for myself was to create musical imagery which might capture the spirit of key episodes of The Iliad. Obviously, to deal with this epic in a composition of only 14 minutes is a great challenge. Thus the piece is by nature episodic, though it has recurring elements. The most significant is a particular harmony (D-E-A-B flat) which I associate with the rage of Achilles, the subject of the work’s first section. These words are in The Iliad’s very first line, and it is indeed Achilles’ rage which is the primary focus of the poem. It is the death of Achilles’ beloved companion Patroclus, at the hands of the Trojan hero Hector, which spurs Achilles to return to battle with the Trojans after a long refusal to take part. (“The death of Patroclus” is a kind of homage to one of my favorite film cues, by Jerry Goldsmith—those who know his music will know the cue to which I refer.) The farewell of Hector and his wife Andromache is a scene of great tenderness in the midst of the grim fury of battle. (I have taken some license here in reversing the proper order of these two scenes.) The combat of Hector and Achilles is the climax toward which The Iliad has been moving, and it ends with Hector’s death and defilement at the hands of the Greek warrior. Perhaps the most moving scene in The Iliad occurs near its end, when King Priam, ruler of Troy, steals into Achilles’ camp to beg for the ransom of his son Hector’s body. This section is for strings alone, followed by the final section, the subject of which is the ransom and burial of the body of the Trojan hero. The sound of Achilles’ rage, though, is still present at the work’s conclusion.

Boyer: Ghosts of Troy

London Symphony Orchestra
Peter Boyer, conductor