A threnody is a wailing ode, song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word θρηνῳδία (threnoidia), from θρῆνος (threnos, "wailing") and ᾠδή (oide, "ode"),[1][2] the latter ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂weyd- ("to sing") that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".

Jan Kochanowski with his dead daughter in a painting by Jan Matejko inspired by the poet's Threnodies

Similar terms include "dirge", "coronach", "lament" and "elegy". The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a "Threnody" in memory of his son.[3]


In written works:

In classical music:

In jazz:

In film and other music:

See also


  1. The Oxford Companion to Music (2010).
  2. "Threnody". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  3. Grove Music Online (2010).
  4. Poetry Foundation (January 28, 2022). "Threnody for a Brown Girl by Countee Cullen". Poetry magazine.
  5. Pierce, Peter (2002). "Australian and American literature of the Vietnam War" in Australia's Vietnam War, p. 132. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1585441376.
  6. Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "Threnody". From Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, New York, Boston, Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.
  7. Peretz, Maya (1993). "In Search of the First Polish Woman Author". The Polish Review. 38 (4): 470.
  8. Rodda, Richard E. "Notes on the Program" (PDF). Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  9. Rumson, Gordon (1991). Threnody for John Ogdon. Calgary, Canada: Sikesdi Press. OCLC 51874505.
  10. Sheng, Bright (2002). Orchestral Works. Naxos.
  11. Still: Summerland - Violin Suite - Pastoerla - American Suite (CD). Naxos. May 2022. Naxos Catalog No. 8.559867.
  12. Krikorian, Dave. "Morgan, Lee (Edward Lee)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.


  • Marcello Sorce Keller, "Expressing, Communicating, Sharing and Representing Grief and Sorrow with Organized Sound (Musings in Eight Short Sentences)", in Stephen Wild, Di Roy, Aaron Corn, and Ruth Lee Martin (eds.), Humanities Research: One Common Thread the Musical World of Lament, Australian National University, Vol. XIX (2013), no. 3, 3–14.
  • The dictionary definition of threnody at Wiktionary
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