for double bass solo and string orchestra with accordion

Co- commissioned by Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,
Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Tongyeong International Music Festival


First performance: 8 December, 2019, Berlin Philharmonie
Conductor: Peter Eötvös
Matthew McDonald, double bass


In 1971, I was flying over Anchorage in Alaska when I saw an incredible light effect through the aeroplane window: it was the aurora borealis. I have never ever seen anything so powerful or such a blaze of colour in motion. It was not only beautiful, but also extremely powerful, almost threatening and simply monumental. In my composition Aurora, I have attempted to reproduce my own impressions of this moment when I felt myself as an element of this cosmos.


Aurora is my first piece for solo double bass. Up until now, I have always used the lower registers of this instrument and was astouned that the double bass could also soar up into the highest ranges, sounding as powerful and colorful as the aurora borealis itself. Accompanying the solo double bass in a small string orchestra and an accordion, as well as two additional orchestral double basses, which are placed in the concert hall to form a triangle with the soloist.
/Peter Eötvös/


6 May, 2024
Madrid, Spain

Eötvös: Aurora

Matthew McDonald

Reina Sofia School of Music
Conductor: TBC



14 Oct, 2021
Budapest, Hungary

Eötvös: Aurora

Peter Eötvös Foundation Mentorprogram & Concert

Course period: 9-14 October, 2021
Professors: Georges Aperghis, Peter Eötvös, Gregory Vajda
Óbuda Danubia Orchestra
Conducted by the participants of the course

Peter Eötvös: Aurora
Matthew McDonald
Georges Aperghis: Migrants

Budapest Music Center

more info about the concert >
more info about the mentorprogram >

8 Dec, 2019
Berlin, Germany

Eötvös: Aurora

Donghoon Shin: Of Rats and Men for Chamber Orchestra – commissioned by the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker, premiere
Eötvös: Aurora - for Solo Double Bass and String Ensemble - commissioned by the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker, premiere
Stravinsky: Symphony for Wind instruments (1947 version)
Stravinsky: Pulcinella suite

Matthew McDonald, double bass
Cond: Péter Eötvös
Berliner Philharmoniker

Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker




22 minutes

Publisher information

Schott Music Mainz


TITLE Dur. Soloists & choir fl ob cl bcl bn   hn tpt tbn tba   perc pf hp   vn1 vn2 va vc db Other Tech
22'00000 0000 000 65432acc

double bass solo (scordatura F# – B – E – A)
6 violins I
5 violins II
4 violas
3 violoncellos
2 double basses (1st scordatura F – Bb – Eb – Ab; 2nd with 5 strings C – E – A – D – G)

Technical information

Soloist: in the middle
Double basses in front: 1 double bass on the right, the other on the left side


Matthew McDonald, double bass
Karajan-Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker
Conductor: Peter Eötvös – 2019