Elena Kats-Chernin

(b. 4 November 1957, Tashkent).

Australian composer, born in Uzbekistan, of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world.

Ms. Kats-Chernin studied figure skating and music as a child. She studied at the School of Music in Yaroslavl from 1962–71 and the Gnessin State Musical College in Moscow from 1972–75. She then studied composition with Richard Toop at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music of the University of Sydney from 1975–80 and with Helmut Lachenmann at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Stuttgart, on a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst.

Among her honours are the Sounds Australian Award for best composition (1996), the Jean Bogan Prize (1996), the Green Room Award for best original music for dance (2003, for Wild Swans), the Helpmann Award for best original score (2004, for Wild Swans), and a two-year fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts (2004–05, to enable a collaboration with Meryl Tankard). In addition, Deep Sea Dreaming was featured at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) and Water was featured at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup in Sydney (2003).

She lived in Australia from 1975–80 and in Germany from 1980–94, but has once again lived in Australia since 1994.

In addition to the works listed below, she has composed several ballets and incidental music for state theatres in Austria and Germany, as well as collaborations with the choreographer Reinhild Hoffmann in experimental productions in Germany, Italy, Japan, and Portugal.

Her publisher is Boosey & Hawkes.


E-mail address for consulting scores:



Coco's Last Collection (suite), dancer, 2 pianos, 1994

Iphis (opera, libretto by Richard Toop, after Ovid), 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), trumpet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano (+ synthesizer), percussion, 1997, revised 2005

Matricide, The Musical (opera in 1 act, libretto by Kathleen Mary Fallon), 6 sopranos, clarinet (+ bass clarinet, alto saxophone), double bass, piano (+ synthesizer), percussion, 1998

Wild Swans (ballet, choreography by Meryl Tankard, vocalise, after Hans Christian Andersen), soprano, orchestra, 2002 (a concert suite was arranged; also concert version of some sections for violin, piano; one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Eliza Aria [also versions for soprano, piano; violin, piano; piano; string quartet; trumpet, piano; cello, piano; piccolo/flute, piano; piccolo, string quartet])

Mr Barbeque (12 cabaret songs, text by Jānis Balodis [English translation]), tenor, clarinet, bassoon, violin, double bass, piano, percussion, 2002 (also concert version of some sections as Mr Barbeque Reflections, violin, piano)

Undertow (chamber opera, libretto by Juha Vanhakartano, Andrea Rieniets), 5 voices, 2 actors, dancer, 8 players, 2003

Amalgamate (ballet), indigenous voice from Australia, didgeridoo (wind instrument from Australia), large orchestra, 2006

The Rage of Life (chamber opera, libretto by Igor Bauersima), 3 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, bass, small orchestra (oboe [+ English horn], clarinet [+ bass clarinet], trumpet, trombone, tuba, electric guitar, synthesizer, 2 percussion, 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass), 2010

The Little Green Road to Fairy Land (ballet, choreography by Rosetta Cook), soprano, 10 players, 2011

Poppea (opera musicale in 3 acts with a prologue, after Claudio Monteverdi, libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello [translated by Susanne Felicitas Wolf]), 4 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, alto, 4 tenors, 2 baritones, bass, mixed chorus, small orchestra (2 clarinets, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, banjo, jazz piano, toy piano, percussion, 11 violins, 4 violas, double bass), 2012

Odysseus (dramma per musica in 3 acts with a prologue, after Claudio Monteverdi, libretto by Giacomo Badoaro [translated by Susanne Felicitas Wolf, Ulrich Lenz]), 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, alto, 4 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses, mixed chorus, 2 harps, 10 cellos, 2012

Orpheus (favola in musica in 5 acts with a prologue, after Claudio Monteverdi, libretto by Alessandro Striggio [son] [translated by Susanne Felicitas Wolf]), soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, 2 basses, mixed chorus, small orchestra (9 winds, 4 French horns, 2 trumpets, bass trombone, tuba, cimbalom, celesta, accordion, bandoneón, 4 percussion, 10 violins, 2 double basses), 2012


Stairs, large orchestra (64 players), 1984

Clocks, small orchestra (20 players), fixed media, 1993 (also incorporated into film Clocks)

Retonica, large orchestra (76 players), 1993

Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti, small orchestra (14 players), 1995

Zoom and Zip, 17 or more strings, 1997

TurnTableTurn, soprano saxophone, big band, 1999

Displaced Dances (concerto no. 1), piano, large orchestra, 2000

Heaven Is Closed, large orchestra, 2000

Concerto No. 2, piano, large orchestra (69 players), 2001

Torque, accordion, small orchestra (piano, strings), 2002

Fire, large orchestra, 2003

Landscape, large orchestra, 2003

Lotus, large orchestra, 2003

Water, large orchestra, 2003

Mythic, 2004

Re-Inventions, recorder, string orchestra, 2004 (version of chamber work; also version for bassoon, string orchestra, 2009)

Stoccata, tuba, large orchestra, 2006

Alexander Rag, 2007 (version of work for piano)

Ornamental Air, basset clarinet, small orchestra (2 flutes, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, strings), 2007

Consolation, clarinet ad libitum, string orchestra, 2009 (version of work for string quartet)

Garden of Dreams, didgeridoo, piano, orchestra, 2009

Golden Kitsch, percussion, orchestra, 2009

Re-Collecting ASTORoids, 2009 (also version incorporated into A Rag and a Tango)

Redmyre Suite, large orchestra, 2009

Innocent Clouds, oboe ad libitum/clarinet ad libitum, string orchestra, 2010 (version of chamber work)

Obsidian Light, 2010

A Rag and a Tango, small orchestra (11 winds, 11 brass, timpani, percussion), 2010 (incorporates versions of Russian Rag I and Re-Collecting ASTORoids)

Selenite City, violin, piano, orchestra, 2010

For Richard..., string orchestra, 2011


ChechyotkaTap Dancing, trombone, piano, 1979

In Tension, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1982

Solo Januar, button accordion, 1985

Drinking Song, string quartet, 1992

Naïve Waltz, string quartet, 1993 (also version for violin, piano, 2004)

Totschki, oboe, clarinet, 1993

Clip, percussion, 1994, revised 1995

Chamber of Horrors, harp, 1995

Concertino, violin, ensemble (flute [+ piccolo], oboe, E-flat clarinet, bassoon [+ contrabassoon], French horn, trumpet, trombone, double bass, piano, 2 percussion), 1995

ProMotion, amplified ensemble (E-flat clarinet, guitar, cello, double bass, piano, percussion), 1995

Champagne in a Teapot, English horn, ensemble (flute [+ piccolo], E-flat clarinet, French horn, trumpet, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, 2 percussion), 1996

Gypsy Ramble, viola, cello, piano, 1996 (also version for violin, cello, piano, 1999)

Kosky Tango, clarinet, string quartet, 1996

Purple Prelude, clarinet, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, 1996 (also version for piano)

Removalist Rag, saxophone, piano, 1996 (version of work for piano; also versions for trombone, piano, 2003; bassoon, piano, 2004)

Russian Rag I, clarinet, trumpet, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, marimba, 1996 (version of work for piano; also versions for clarinet, piano, 1996; string quartet, 1996; bassoon, piano, 2004; violin, piano, 2004; flute, cello, piano, 2004; version as Why Not, clarinet, trombone/tuba, piano, 1999)

Twenty-Five Measures, clarinet, 1996

Wedding Suite, flute, violin, 1996

Wild Rice, cello, 1996

Bucharian Melody, violin, piano, 1997

Charleston noir, string quartet, 1997 (version of work for piano; also version for 4 double basses, 2002)

Hemispheres, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, 1997

Umcha Piece, 5 percussion, 1998

Sarglos, alto saxophone, piano, percussion, 1999

Skeletons in the Cupboard, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, double bass, piano, percussion, 1999

Terraces, clarinet, string quartet, 1999

Velvet Revolution, French horn, violin, piano, 1999

Character Interludes, flute/violin, guitar, 2000

Little Piece of Gossip, guitar, 2000

N-Tet Rag, clarinet, bassoon, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 2000

Bleached Memories, treble guitar, guitar, baritone guitar, bass guitar, 2001

For Rosa, string quartet, 2001

A Nostalgic Piece, violin, piano, 2001

Patina, violin, 2001

Sand Waltz, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 2001

A Short Waltz, violin, cello, piano, 2001

Still Life, viola, piano, 2001 (also version for violin, piano, 2001)

Vitalia's Steps, piano, toy piano, percussion, 2001 (also version for piano [+ toy piano], percussion [+ toy piano], 2001)

A-void-ance, violin, cello, piano, 2002

Bertina, clarinet, 2 guitars, cello, marimba, 2002

Charmer's Apprentice, oboe, piano, 2002 (also version for English horn, piano, 2010)

Mr Barbeque Reflections, violin, piano, 2002 (concert version of some sections from Mr Barbeque)

Slicked Back Tango, bassoon/violin/cello, piano, 2002

Black Cat Rag, violin, piano, 2003

Melancholic Piece, violin, piano, 2003 (also version for bassoon, piano, 2004)

Naïve Interlude, clarinet, 2003 (also versions for violin, 2003; violin, piano, 2003; viola, piano, 2003)

Peggy, clarinet, 2003

Peggy's Minute Rag, violin, piano, 2003 (also version for bassoon, piano, 2004)

Revolving Doors, violin, piano, 2003 (version of work for piano; also version for bassoon, piano, 2004)

Tranquil Interlude, clarinet, 2003

Three Interludes, viola, 2000–04

After Dinner Music, violin, piano, 2004

Augusta's Garden Waltz, bassoon/violin, piano, 2004

Birthday Rag, violin, piano, 2004

Blue Rose, violin, piano, 2004 (also version for string quartet, 2012)

Butterflying, string quartet, 2004 (version of choral work; also version for violin, piano, 2004)

Cocktail Rag, bassoon/violin, piano, 2004 (version of work for piano)

Colours of the Sea, alto flute, cello, piano, 2004 (also shorter version for piano)

Economy Class Blues, bassoon/violin, piano, 2004 (version of work for piano)

For Alex, violin, piano, 2004

Green Leaf Prelude, bassoon, piano, 2004

Re-Inventions, recorder, string quartet, 2004 (also versions for recorder, string orchestra; bassoon, string orchestra)

The Spirit and the Maiden, violin, cello, piano, 2004

Wild Swans, violin, piano, 2004 (concert version of some sections from ballet)

Eliza Aria, violin, piano, 2005 (version of section of Wild Swans; may be performed separately as a concert work; also versions for string quartet, 2007; trumpet, piano, 2009; cello, piano, 2010; piccolo/flute, piano, 2010; piccolo, string quartet, 2010)

Triptych for Silence, cello, piano, 2004–06 (its three movements may be performed separately: Nonchalance, 2004 [also versions for piano; bassoon, piano, 2005]; No Silence, 2006 [also version for string quartet, 2006]; Blue Silence, 2006 [also versions for string quartet, 2006; flute/violin/viola, piano, 2006])

Burnished Silver, 4 clarinets, 2006 (also version for flute, piano, string quartet, 2006)

Kwong Song, recorder, cello, harpsichord, 2006 (also versions for piano; flute, cello, piano, 2006; 4 clarinets, 2006; string quartet, 2006)

Mater, brass, percussion, 2006 (version of choral work)

Phoenix Story, 2 cellos, 2006

Pink Breasted Robin, string quartet, 2006

Purple Silence, 4 French horns, 2006

Silver Eucalypt, string quartet, 2006

The Beaver Blaze, brass, 2007 (also version for Baroque ensemble, 2012)

Fast Blue Air, percussion, string quartet, 2007

Fast Blue Village 2, string quartet, 2007

Fast Blue Village 3, viola, piano, 2007

Fast Blue Village 4, 4 clarinets, 2007

From Anna Magdalena's Notebook, string quartet, 2007

The Village Idiot, French horn, trumpet, trombone, electric guitar, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, harpsichord, accordion, percussion, 2007

Birthday Rag for Tom, clarinet, piano, 2009

Calliope Dreaming, violin, cello, piano, 2009 (also version for violin, piano, 2013)

Consolation, string quartet, 2009 (also version for clarinet ad libitum, string orchestra)

Moody Tango, string quartet, 2009 (also version for clarinet, piano, 2009–10)

Ruby Rag, 4 guitars, 2009

Without Words, clarinet, cello, piano, 2009

Innocent Clouds, oboe ad libitum/clarinet ad libitum, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, 2010 (also version for oboe ad libitum/clarinet ad libitum, string orchestra)

Seasons, violin, ensemble (2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano), 2010

Interludes and a Rag, flute, English horn, bass clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello, piano, 2011

Ballade, clarinet, cello, piano, marimba, 2012


Doo (texts by the composer, Kirsten Winter), children's chorus, 3 mixed choruses, 1996

Gone with the Waltz, 6 mixed voices, 1997

Talk Show (song-cycle, text by Hilary Bell), mixed chorus, 1997

Mater (text from the Stabat Mater), 6 mixed voices, percussion, 2000 (also version for brass, percussion)

Deep Sea Dreaming (text by the composer), children's chorus, orchestra, 2000 (also version for children's chorus, piano, 2002)

Memorial Rag (texts by the composer, Chris Latham), children's chorus, string quartet, 2001 (also version for children's chorus, piano, 2001)

Rockhampton Gardens Symphony No. 1 (text by Mark Svendsen), tenor, children's chorus, mixed chorus, marimba ensemble, brass band, orchestra, 2001

The Bather (texts by the composer, Voice Squad), 4 mixed voices, harp, 2001

Un-labelled (texts by the composer, Xenia Hanusiak), children's chorus, 2001

Ad Astra, girls' chorus, youth orchestra, 2002 (also version for girls' chorus, piano, 2002)

Rockhampton Gardens Symphony No. 2 (text by Mark Svendsen), mezzo-soprano, tenor, children's chorus, mixed chorus, marimba ensemble, brass band, orchestra, 2002–03

Butterflying (text by Chris Latham), children's chorus, orchestra, 2004 (also versions for string quartet; violin, piano; piano)

Psalm 130, mixed chorus, 2005

The Uninvited Stranger (text by Sandy Jeff), 2 mixed choruses, 2 pianos, 2007

When I Grow Up (texts by the composer, choristers from Gondwana Voices), children's chorus, piano, string quartet, 2008

River's Lament (text by Charles Anthony Silvestri), male chorus, 2011

Symphonia Eluvium, boy soprano, mixed chorus, large orchestra, 2011


Langsam (text by Friedrich Rückert), soprano, clarinet, viola, cello, piano, 1996

Fox (text by Margaret Wild), speaker, orchestra, 2000

Eliza Aria, soprano, orchestra, 2002 (section of Wild Swans; may be performed separately as a concert work; also version for soprano, piano, 2002)

Next, Please! (text by the composer), baritone, clarinet, violin, double bass, piano, 2003

Wild Swans, soprano, orchestra, 2004 (concert suite from ballet)

Dark Wind Blowing (song-cycle, text by Val Vallis), tenor/baritone, piano, 2011


Reductions, 2 pianos, 1984

Tast-en, 1991

Variations in a Serious Black Dress, 1994, revised 1996

The Schubert Blues, 1995

Charleston noir, 1996 (also versions for string quartet; 4 double basses)

Four Rags for Ian Munro, 1996 (its four sections may be performed separately: Rug Rag; Russian Rag II; Peggy's Rag; Removalist Rag [also versions for saxophone, piano; trombone, piano; bassoon, piano])

Get Well Rag, 1996 (also shorter version as Get Well, 2001)

Russian Rag I, 1996 (also versions for clarinet, trumpet, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, marimba; clarinet, piano; string quartet; bassoon, piano; violin, piano; flute, cello, piano; version incorporated into A Rag and a Tango; version as Why Not, clarinet, trombone/tuba, piano)

Sunday Rag, 1997

Alexander Rag, 1998 (also version for orchestra)

Purple Prelude, 1998 (version of chamber work)

Sonata Lost and Found, 1998 (one section may be performed separately: Unfinished Lullaby)

Stur in dur, piano (+ voice), 1998

Suburban Rag, 1998

Zee Rag, 1998

Backstage Rag, 1999

Combination Rag, 1999

Page Turn, 1999

Almost a Blues, 2001

Cinema, 2001

Drums, 2001

Little Door, 2001

Lullaby, 2001

Mystery, 2001

No. 7, 2001

Play Properly, 2001

Rockhampton Rag, 2001

Russian Waltz, 2001

Smudged Mirror Shapes, 2001

After Dinner Rag, 2003

Cocktail Rag, 2003 (also version for bassoon/violin, piano)

Reflections, 2003

Revolving Doors, 2003 (also versions for violin, piano; bassoon, piano)

Tremors dreams memories, 2003

Butterflying, 2004 (version of choral work)

Colours of the Sea, 2004 (shorter version of work for alto flute, cello, piano)

Economy Class Blues, 2004 (also version for bassoon/violin, piano)

Half Moon Prelude, 2004

Nonchalance, 2004 (version of movement from Triptych for Silence)

Sapphire Rag, 2004

Dance in 7/4, 2006

Fast Blue Village 1, 2006

Kwong Song, 2006 (version of work for recorder, cello, harpsichord)

Eliza Aria, 2007 (version of section of Wild Swans; may be performed separately as a concert work)

Fleeting Beauty, 2007

Road to Harvest, 2007

Victor's Heart, piano 4 hands, 2008

Bach Study, 2010


Clocks, 1995 (Kirsten Winter) (incorporates Clocks)

Smash, small orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, harp, piano, percussion, strings), fixed media, 1997 (Kirsten Winter)

The Widower, 2004 (Kevin Lukas)


Abwege, 10 players, 1995 (for Abwege by Georg Wilhelm Pabst)

KörkarlenThe Phantom Carriage, small orchestra (18 players), 1996 (for Körkarlen by Victor Sjöström)

Menschen am Sonntag, soprano, small orchestra (13 players), 2000 (for Menschen am Sonntag by Robert Siodmak)


Stairs. Hiroyuki Iwaki/Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Vox Australis, 1989)

Tast-en. Lisa Moore, piano (Tall Poppies Records, 1994)

Russian Rag I (original version). Donna Coleman, piano (ABC Classics, 1996)

Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti; Purple Prelude (original version); Concertino; Variations in a Serious Black Dress; Clocks; Russian Rag I (second version). Georges Lentz, violin; Stephanie McCallum, piano; David Stanhope/Sydney Alpha Ensemble (ABC Classics: 456 468-2, 1997)

Totschki. Rita van Ooi, oboe; Roslyn Dunlop, clarinet (Roslyn Dunlop, 1998)

Twenty-Five Measures. Philippa Robinson, clarinet (Innamincka, 1998)

Purple Prelude (second version). Jeanell Carrigan, piano (Vox Australis, 1998)

Chamber of Horrors. Marshall McGuire, harp (ABC Classics, 1999)

In Tension. Mark Summerbell/Seymour Group (ANU School of Music, 1999)

Unceremonious; Procession; Stigma; Golden Edge; Moo; Why Not; Left-over; Digging; Fake Sins; Dizziness; Let the Dust Settle; Not Quite in the Centre; Hot Air; Broken Mirrors; Clocks (excerpt). Uta-Mirjam Theilen, clarinets; Uwe Dierksen, trombone, tuba; Gregory Jones, cello; Elena Kats-Chernin, piano; Heinz Huber, accordion; Dirk Rothbrust, percussion (WERGO/Edition ZKM: WER 2057 2, 1999)

Page Turn. Daniel Del Pino, piano (ABC Classics, 2000)

Four Rags for Ian Munro; Russian Rag I (original version). Elizabeth Green, piano (Elizabeth Green, 2000)

Removalist Rag (second version). James Nightingale, saxophone; Kerry Yong, piano (JLN Productions, 2000)

Four Rags for Ian Munro. Renate Turrini, piano (NEA Music Association, 2000)

Deep Sea Dreaming (excerpt). Simone Young/Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, 2000)

Purple Prelude (second version); Russian Rag I (original version); Sonata Lost and Found; Alexander Rag (original version); Stur in dur; Variations in a Serious Black Dress; Suburban Rag; The Schubert Blues; Get Well Rag. Lisa Moore, voice, piano (Tall Poppies Records: TP147, 2000)

Wild Rice. David Pereira, cello (Tall Poppies Records, 2001)

Langsam. Perihelion (Artworks: AW 032, 2002)

Concerto No. 2 (excerpts). Ian Munro, piano; Colin Piper/Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Sydney Symphony Orchestra, 2002)

Russian Rag I (version by the performers). Karak Percussion (Karak Percussion, 2003)

Memorial Rag (second version). Lyn Williams/Gondwana Voices (ABC Classics: 472 822-2, 2003)

Torque. Richard Tognetti/Australian Chamber Orchestra (ABC Classics: 476 102-2, 2003)

Still Life. Patricia Pollett, viola; Stephen Emmerson, piano (Tall Poppies Records: TP162, 2003)

Charleston noir (version for 4 double basses); Chamber of Horrors; Still Life; Wild Rice; Gypsy Ramble (original version); Velvet Revolution. Alice Giles, harp; Patricia Pollett, viola; David Pereira, cello; Stephen Emmerson, piano; Tall Poppies Ensemble; Perihelion; The Four Basses (Tall Poppies Records: TP181, 2006)

Ornamental Air. Michael Collins, basset clarinet/Svenska Kammarorkestern (Chandos Records: CHAN 10756, 2013)