Rare Performance of Harry Partch’s “Delusion of the Fury” Staged

Photo: Mike Peters

Dean Drummond performing on the Harmonic Canon in Harry Partch's "Delusion of the Fury."

The late American musical theorist and composer Harry Partch’s (1901 - 1974) seminal theatrical work, Delusion of the Fury, was recently staged at the Japan Society in New York for the first time since its premiere in 1969.

The work, an example of Partch’s concept of “total theater,” combines music, dance, stagecraft and ritual using the remarkable original instruments invented and crafted by Partch himself. Since 1999, these instruments have resided at Montclair State University in the Harry Partch Instrumentarium and were transported to New York especially for these performances.

The music was performed by the group, Newband under the direction of Dean Drummond, associate professor at the John J. Cali School of Music, director of the Harry Partch Institute and curator of the Harry Partch Instrumentarium. A noted composer and performer in his own right, Drummond is also an expert on Partch, his music, and his instruments. Drummond was among the musicians that performed Delusion of the Fury at its world premiere 38 years ago.

A pioneer of new music and the foremost proponent of microtonal scales of his day, Partch was an innovative music theorist and gifted inventor of musical instruments. Conventional instruments were not well suited to the music he composed so he invented new ones—as much works of art as producers of sound—in order for his own music to be played.

Largely because the Partch instruments are needed to play his music, performances are uncommon and they are always highly anticipated and appreciated so it is no surprise that the four performances of Delusion of the Fury were completely sold out before opening night. The production received an enthusiastic review from the New York Times and was listed as one of the best classical and opera productions of 2007 by Time Out New York.

Read the New York Times review here.

Read the Time Out New York review here.

Read more about Harry Partch here.

See additional photos of the production here.