Psalm 151

for solo or four percussionists

In memoriam Frank Zappa


First performance: February 1994, Stuttgart
Mircea Ardeleanu
Video: Hungarian Television 1995,
Zoltan Rácz


“This psalm is a protest, no song of praise.
Seven two-part verses, five choruses circling.
A protest, no song of worship.
The number 151.
In Memoriam Frank Zappa”

/Peter Eötvös/


Ritual is part of my nature. I would actually call all of my pieces “rituals”, as gesture and sound appear in absolute unity first in this ancient genre. In “Psalm 151″ the instruments – seven tubular bells, two bell plates and two hump gongs – are placed in a circle, with a bass drum in the middle. During the chorus, the drummer goes around – after having played a verse on the bass drum -, always following the same order: first the tubular bells, then the bell plates, finally the gongs. Then he comes back, plays a verse and again a chorus. This constant circling around the instruments creates a ritual act, in which every gesture, every mallet has a special role. The way in which the bells, plates and gongs are treated was very important to me: on the one hand, they chant (as they have a specific pitch), on the other hand, they are hit just as animals or people are hit, struck.

Even the fur on the bass drum can be regarded as skin that can be caressed, scratched or beaten. This sensuality gives the piece a very special theatrical and ritual form.

The title of the composition refers to the dedication „In memoriam Frank Zappa”. All the 150 psalms of the Bible are songs of worship. In connection with the early, meaningless death of Zappa’s, however, God cannot be praised; one can only protest. As there is no trace of protest in all the 150 psalms, this I named Psalm 151. It is the psalm that is not included in the Bible.


/Peter Eötvös – in conversation with Martin Leber –  1994/



The form of the rite:

– invocation (gongs with fists)

– First verse (bass drum with fingernails)

– First chorus (bells – plates – gongs)

– Second verse (bass drum with mailloche and vibraphone mallets)

– Second chorus (bells – plates – gongs)

– Third verse (bass drum with very thick wooden mallet and superball)

– Third chorus (bell plates – gongs)

– Fourth verse (bass drum with wooden mallets)

– Fifth verse (bass drum with drumsticks)

– Fourth chorus (bells – plates – gongs)

– Sixth verse (bass drum with rod and broom)

– Fifth chorus (bells- plates – gongs)

– Seventh verse (bass drum with finger-nails)


22 Nov, 2022
Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg
More info >


28 May, 2014
Budapest, Hungary

Psalm 151

Amadinda Percussion Group
Hungarian Radio Studio 6.

17 Nov, 2013
Paris, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151

percussion: Laszlo Hudacsek


4 Dec, 2011
Cologne, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151

WDR3 radio concert

Schlagquartett Köln

14 May, 2011
London, UK

Eötvös portrait concert

BBC London

Octet Plus
Sonata per sei
Psalm 151
Guildhall Ensemble, cond. Richard Baker

Psychokosmos (Miklos Lukács, cimbalom)
Levitation (Richard Hosford, John Bradbury clarinets)
IMA (BBCSC + BBC Singers)
BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Peter Eötvös

"The Seventh Door" - portrait film
"Three sisters" - opera film

Barbican Center

8 Mar, 2008
Lyon, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Lyon Biennale
Jean Geoffroy, percussion

26 Oct, 2006
Budapest, Hungary

Eötvös: Magány/Solitude, Kosmos, Mese/Tale, Psalm 151, Two Poems to Polly, Dervish dance

Academy of Science in Hungary (MTA)
Inaugural Lecture

20 Sep, 2006
Luzern, Switzerland

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Luzern Festival

9 Jun, 2006
Strasbourg, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Michael Pattmann
Musée d´Art Moderne

14 Jul, 2004
Szombathely, Hungary

Eötvös: Kosmos, Psalm 151, Psy

International Bartók Festival, July 10-21

Peter Nagy, piano
Zoltán Rácz, percussion, marimba
Gergely Ittzés, flute
András Déri, violoncello

UMZE Chamber Orchestra

27 May, 2004
Paris, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151, Korrespondenz, Intervalles-interieurs

Cond: Peter Eötvös
Ensemble Intercontemporain

Cité de la Musique

3 May, 2004
Zürich, Switzerland

Eötvös: Psy, Psalm 151, Kosmos, Two poems to Polly, Dervish dance, Zwei Promenaden

Studio für Neue Musik
Hochschule für Musik Zürich

May 3-7

26 Jan, 2004
Cannes, France

Eötvös: Snatches of a conversation, Psalm 151, Paris-Dakar

Snatches of a conversation:

UMZE Budapest
Conductor: Zsolt Nagy

Psalm 151:
Zoltán Rácz, percussion


Budapest Jazz Orchestra
Conductor: László Kovács

Palais des Festivals

26 Oct, 2002
Budapest, Hungary

Eötvös: Solitude/Magány, Kosmos, Mese/Tale, Psalm 151, Two poems to Polly, Dervishdance

Hungarian Academy of Science
Inaugural concert

19 Jan, 2002
Berlin, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151, Psy, Two poems to Polly, Windsequenzen

Cond: Franck Ollu

1 Oct, 2001
Florence, Italy

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Laszlo Hudacsek

26 Sep, 2001
Strasbourg, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Musica festival
Amadinda Percussion Ensemble

4 Mar, 2001
Paris, France

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Michel Cerutti
Ensemble InterContemporain

21 Jun, 2000
Balatonföldvár, Hungary

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Amadinda Percussion Group

19 May, 2000
Frankfurt, Germany

Eötvös: Windsequenzen, Intervalles-Interieurs, Psalm 151


10 Mar, 2000
Brussels, Belgium

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Gert Francois

12 Nov, 1999
Stuttgart, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151

Laszlo Hudacsek

28 Sep, 1999
Düsseldorf, Germany

Eötvös: Chinese Opera, Psy, Steine, Windsequenzen, Psalm 151, Two poems

Chinese Opera, Psy (marimba version), Steine, Windsequenzen, Psalm 151(four players), Two poems
Musikfabrik Düsseldorf

11 Jul, 1998
Edenkoben, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151, Psy

Psalm 151 (solo version)
Psy (marimba version)

Eötvös Institute Ensemble
Cond: Peter Eötvös

10 Jul, 1998
Edenkoben, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151, Psy

Psalm 151 (solo version)
Psy (marimba version)

Eötvös Institute Ensemble
Cond: Peter Eötvös

27 Jul, 1996
Darmstadt, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151, Thunder

Seminar for Conductors and composers
July 27-Aug 5

Stockhausen: Mixtur
Eötvös: Psalm 151
Eötvös: Thurnder

Ensemble Modern

Cond: Peter Eötvös


23 Jul, 1996
Szombathely, Hungary

Eötvös: Shadows, Psalm 151

International Bartók Festival

Cond: Peter Eötvös


22 Jul, 1996
Szombathely, Hungary

Eötvös: Shadows, Psalm 151

International Bartók Festival

Cond: Peter Eötvös


4 Feb, 1994
Stuttgart, Germany

Eötvös: Psalm 151

First performance
Mircea Ardeleanu


20 minutes

Publisher information


TITLE Dur. Soloists & choir fl ob cl bcl bn   hn tpt tbn tba   perc pf hp   vn1 vn2 va vc db Other Tech
Psalm 151
Chamber Music - Solo instrument
20'perc/4perc00000 0000 000 00000

solo or four percussionists

Further information

“Dieser Psalm ist ein Protest, kein Lobgesang.
Sieben zweistimmige Strophen, fünf Refraine im Rundgang.
Ein Protest, kein Lobgesang.
Die Nummer 151.
In Memoriam Frank Zappa”


Yukinobu Ishikawa
Studio concert in Detmold – 2010
(Percussion class of Prof.Peter Prommel)

Yuyoung Jin – 2018