Battle of Cannae

Battle of Cannae

Instrumentation: Percussion Quartet – for unpitched percussion and slide whistle

Duration: Approximately 5 minutes

Last Performed: Wilfrid Laurier University April 2013

Performers: Clayton Peters, Nathan Miller, Devon Roulston and Chris Hull


Program Notes

The Battle of Cannae took place on August 2nd in 216BC in Cannae Italy.

This battle was between the Carthaginian Republic under Hannibal and the Roman Republic under command of Consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Graius Terentius Varro.

Hannibal led his troupes through the mountains traveling south towards Italy, they numbered 50,000 men, almost half Rome’s forces. Rome had a staggering 86,400 men and historically beating they opponents down by sheer numbers.

However, the Carthaginian army ended up defeating the Romans by way of tactical victory. Casualties numbered in 13,900 for the Carthaginians but that was minor compared to Rome whose forces got depleted by 53,500 to 75,000.

My piece tells the story of the traveling Carthaginian army, first depicted as gathering allies, weapons and cavalry. After the commotion the piece drops off in a calm yet anticipatory quiet section as Carthage marches slowly and carefully through the mountains towards Italy.

Rome, hearing about the Carthaginian advance, respond with the formation and march of their troops to meet the Carthaginian army. They meet on the battlefield at Cannae and as Hannibal predicted, the Romans begin there forward frontal assault trying to claim victory with overpowering numbers. However, Hannibal and his infantry slowly move backwards uncovering their cavalry which attack the Romans on their exposed flanks. Then more cavalry appear and circle the entire Roman army. This section is shown through the ‘Fight’ section at bar 114. Unable to create proper ranks, the Roman army, disorganized and disoriented, eventually fall. The piece ends with the Romans realizing they are surrounded as the main drum figure from the beginning of the piece gets reiterated.