An American massacre is remembered in an elegy

An American massacre is remembered in an elegy


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2019

It is 20 years this week since the school shooting at Columbine, Colorado, where two senior students murdered ten others and a teacher in an unexplained gun rampage.

In the immediate aftermath, local composer Frank Ticheli was asked to write a piece of music for the school band.

He called it American Elegy. It has been performed more than 10,000 times, according to the publisher.

And still the shootings continue.

In this radio feature, Ticheli talks about the process of healing through music.




  • You should note, Norman, that Ticheli included phrases of the school’s “Alma Mater,” which he also wrote. That music, “We Are Columbine; We Are Columbine” appears at the climactic moment of the score and continues to most musicians–young and old–20 years later. I long for the time when I don’t feel a need to present this work. Unfortunately, that may never come.