Endling (2007)

“Rarely does a contemporary piece stand out in an orchestral concert, and even more rarely one by an Australian composer. Andrew Schultz’s Endling (2007) emanates from a deeply disturbing concept – the last survivor of any living species, flora and fauna. After that, extinction. With a full body of strings, two horns and timpani, Schultz has created a beautiful, deeply thoughtful reflection, via simple motifs, restrained dynamics, small gestures, perfectly placed pauses and an ending, horns alone, that lingered long.

Conductor Andreas Delfs, economical with the baton, saving his gestures for when they were really needed, maximised the intensity of Endling. Mozart’s Symphony no 41 in C major, known as Jupiter, was the perfect choice to follow Endling. Survival of the fittest, to be sure… The subtlety of Schultz and Mozart was all the more telling after the romantic extravaganzas of the first half of the concert… After most ASO concerts, the foyer chat is about the concerto soloist. This time, people wanted to talk about Endling.” [Elizabeth Silsbury, Adelaide Advertiser, July 2011]

“Upon hearing the work, I felt immediately drawn to this piece, which has a sense of stillness and loneliness that is emotionally (and sometimes harmonically) akin to the music of Bruckner and Sibelius…a work of communicative power and concentration.” [David Bollard, Music Forum, Summer 2011]

“Schultz’s magnetic pull is towards the pensive, steadily glowing and leaning towards the whisper… Endling means the last surviving individual of a species or plant. Schultz’s piece specifies two horns, timps and strings. It’s a tonal piece, tender and with a tendency to sorrow and introspection. The music is elegiac with fine pastels touched in by the horns and fragile yet at times intense strings. A parallel might be Finzi but more astringent and strange yet not dissonant.” [Rob Barnett, Music Web International, October 2011]

Endling … thematizes the loss of nature and the diversity of species on our planet and the disappearance of beauty in a completely exploited and spiritually vacuous world. This pain is, however, not articulated via atonality and harsh dissonances, rather with an almost transcendental harmony in which the melancholy regarding all that is irretrievable assumes the form of a beauty that takes leave of this world and yet remains facing toward it. Precisely in its serenity and inner calm, this music has something both heartbreaking and deeply moving.” [Burkhard Schäfer,]

“For much of his career, Andrew Schultz has sought a maximum of depth from simple and even constricted means – the telling chord change, the crucial use of silence. His larger works – choral cantatas and full-length operas – may deal with weighty issues: isolation, the sea, deaths at sea, deaths in custody, death on a desert journey, terrorism. But the purely-instrumental, shorter, chamber works are no less profound. So it is with Endling this 15-minute work for an orchestra of two horns, timpani and strings…

Schultz might in this sense be considered Australia’s most Beethovenian composer. His incremental style of development however also guarantees that the first-time listener will be able to follow and, more importantly, feel what he is saying. No wonder 2007’s Endling has made such a deep impression…

For Schultz music-making as a communal activity relates to the sense of communal ecstasy that religious experience must once have provided. That sense may also explain the strongly-positive responses audiences have felt to this work ostensibly about extinction. Perhaps Endling is best thought of therefore, for more reasons than one, as a maximizing of significance even from a minimizing of possibilities.” [Gordon Williams, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Master Series Program Book, March 2012]

“Then, Symphony Australia commissioned the composer Andrew Schultz to write a symphony titled Endling for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in 2006. Since Tasmania was the home of the thylacine (tasmanian tiger), you see the connection…his Endling is resigned to the fact that the end must come, so Schultz likewise found only stoic solitude an appropriate response to environmental loss.” [Dolly Jørgensen, ‘Naming and claiming the last.’]

“if he had called the piece Extiinction, it would have been too obvious, losing the transformative power of language….yet there is a paradox in the work. It is not dark but rather ‘lovely sounding, transecendent’…he wanted it to ‘stand above the anger and pain.’…The language of music in conjunction with the linguistic power of a word has made it a stand out piece.” [Dolly Jørgensen, ‘Endling, the Power of the Last in an Extinction-Prone World,” Environmental Philosophy 14:1, pp119-38]

Read more of Professor Dolly Jørgensen’s discussion of the Endling concept in “What do you call the last of a species?” by Michelle Nijhuis which was published by The New Yorker.

“Thank you for Endling. It is as beautiful as it is moving. I liked it so much I included it in a website I created called Thylacine 10 (T10 for short) in Section 1.6.4. The site can be viewed here: T10 is a distillation of the vastness of the natural world and the uncountable actions of humans to exploit it, appreciate it and protect it.” [Michael Fendley, Correspondence,]

Read more about the work at the program note section of this website.