The Battle of the Gods

About the Piece

The Battle of the Gods will be a sonata for two pianos. It has been commissioned by Duo Q'inti, formed by pianists Emi Okumura and Hwaen Ch'uqi. The piece draws inspiration from the Babylonian creation myth known as "Enūma Eliš" (Enuma Elish), which translates as "when in the height" (or "when on high") in Akkadian, and represents one of the oldest creation myths. 

The surviving version of the Enūma Eliš, likely a compilation, venerates the god Marduk, Babylon's patron in the first millennium BCE. In essence, the myth unfolds as Apsû and Tiamat, primal entities, give birth to the gods. Apsû, disturbed by his descendants, seeks their destruction, leading to his demise by Ea, god of wisdom, who conceives Marduk within Apsû's carcass alongside his wife, Damnika. Tiamat, informed by other gods, opposes Ea and allies with monstrous creatures led by Kingu. Marduk, chosen by Ea and other gods, challenges Tiamat, defeats her, and fashions the cosmos from her body. The story concludes with a divine banquet celebrating Marduk.

The piece will focus on five moments of the story: 1) the creation of the gods by Apsû and Tiamat, 2) the lament of these two for their lost peace due to the actions of their offspring, followed by Apsû's decision to destroy them, 3) the preparations for war on both sides, 4) the battle between Tiamat and Marduk, the champion of the gods, who ultimately kills her and creates the sky with a part of her body, 5) the creation of man by the god Ea, the all-knowing, following the orders of Marduk and 6) the exaltation of Marduk and the reading aloud of his fifty titles.

The Battle of the Gods will have movements, with parts 4, 5 and 6 of the story developed in the last. Despite everything mentioned up to here, the piece will not be entirely programmatic. The six parts of the story will inspire the character of each section and thus the narrative arc of the myth will be followed, but the musical development will not follow a detailed course beyond this point.


Currently, the first two movements have been completed, and the third is in progress. The piece will most likely be finished by mid-March.