Composer David Ludwig recently became fascinated by a particular moment in the Earth's history. It happened 250 million years ago, when there was one supercontinent, a single massive ocean and a huge assortment of creatures -- most of which quickly went extinct. Scientists call it the "great dying," or the Permian-Triassic extinction event. 

Subscribe to podcast

David loves to let science inspire his music. He's composed pieces about the Voyager 1 space probe, the rings of Saturn and the Milky Way. He wrote his piece "Pangaea" as a "prehistoric 'Carnival of the Animals'" for piano and chamber orchestra. It's lively music that carries the listener to a stark, haunting conclusion. 

Hear a recording of the world premiere of "Pangaea," from the Bravo! Vail music festival in August 2017, in the Season 2 premiere of Centennial Sounds. The performance features pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, a trio of string quartets -- the Calder Quartet, Lyris Quartet and Aeolus Quartet -- and double bassist Rachel Calin.  

Explore more music from David Ludwig and Bravo! Vail:

  • Watch the Dover Quartet performance of another science-inspired David Ludwig piece: "Pale Blue Dot," about the Voyager 1 space probe
  • See a performance of David's piece "The New Colossus," inspired by the poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty
  • Check out highlights of an outdoor performance of John Luther Adams' percussion piece "Inuksuit," presented by Bravo! Vail and the Aspen Music Festival & School