The Tibetan Book Of The Dead

The Great Liberation Through Hearing

Ricky Ian Gordon

Libretto by Jean-Claude Van Itallie
Piano Reduction/Vocal Score
Performing Ensemble: Voice with Piano
Instrumentation: Voice, Piano
Item Number: 411-41140
Number of Pages: 190
Duration: 1:37:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: In Print


Quick Overview

Based on Jean-Claude van Itallie's play after the Buddhist teachings of the same name, The Tibetan Book of The Dead leads us through the stages we experience after death and our transition into the next life. It is at once a ritual, an oratorio in 17 set numbers, a requiem, a warning, and a theatrically-staged wake. The 8 characters include a baritone ("The Reader" leading the journey towards death, enlightenment, or rebirth), a soprano (first as "The Dying" and then as "The Dead") and another soprano, two mezzos, two tenors, and a bass, who play the various energies, demons, temptations, memories, and deities.

More Views

  • The Tibetan Book Of The Dead

Scores & Parts

The Tibetan Book of the Dead - Rental

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and The American Music Theatre Festival 1995
Composition Date 1996
Librettist Van Itallie, Jean-Claude
Orchestration 2 Soprano, 2 Mezzo-soprano, 2 Tenor, 1 Baritone, 1 Bass; Fl.(dbl. Picc.) Cl.(dbl.B.Cl.) Hn. Tpt. 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Vln. Vcl. Cb.


1. The Dying
2. The Moment of Death
3. Clear White Light
4. The Peaceful Energies
5. Rainbow Dance
6. Dreamlike Realms
7. The Angry Energies
8. Mahakala
9. Lord of Death
10. Wandering Prayer
11. Realizing I am Dead
12. Pursued by Demons
13. Hungry Ghost
14. Lovemaking
15. Refusing to See
16. Choosing A Home
17. Entering Again