Vikings of the Sunrise is a composition for bowed piano on themes of navigation, exploration and discovery in the Pacific from ancient times until the present era. The term "vikings of the sunrise" was coined by the noted Maori/Irish ethnologist Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa) to denote the intrepid seafaring peoples who first settled the islands of the "Great Ocean of Kiwa." They set out, probably from Indonesia, as early as 1500 B.C. or before; paddling and sailing from the West, ever toward the sunrise, they populated island after island throughout the central and south Pacific, sometimes traversing vast expanses of open sea, eventually reaching as far east as Easter Island and perhaps South America; to the north they discovered and colonized Hawai'i, and to the south New Zealand. They were the first Polynesians, and probably the first long-distance ocean navigators.
"Vikings of the Sunset" refers to the European explorers of the Pacific, beginning with Ferdinand Magellan, who first rounded South America from the Atlantic, sailing ever toward the setting sun to discover new trade routes and new lands to colonize (and Christianize as well), and to help complete the map of the world by proving finally that the earth was a sphere and could be sailed around. There are also references to the great explorer Captain James Cook and the latter-day anthropologist, adventurer and iconoclast Thor Heyerdahl.
While the themes outlined above provided the general inspiration for "Vikings of the Sunrise," the music should not be thought of as depicting a specific program or story. Rather it consists of sound patterns aroused in my own imagination by ancient and heroic sagas told of men and women who traveled the "Great Ocean of Kiwa."
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