Thursday, November 5, 2015


“Loving a child doesn't mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, 
  to teach him to love what is difficult.”
AUTHOR: Nadia Boulanger
 “The greatest gift of love you can give a child is to teach him/her how to 
   love the challenge of achieving personal goals.”


Dance Symphony
for Orchestra, 1925
Antal Dorati, Conductor
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

I: Lento -- molto allegro -- adagio molto
('Dance of the Adolescent')
II: Andante moderato
('Dance of the Young Girl who Moves as if in a Dream')
III: Allegro vivo
('Dance of Mockery')

La Danse (I) by Matisse

The ``Dance Symphony'' is a reworking of material in Copland's
neglected early ballet ``Grohg'' which was based on a free
adaptation of the Dracula tale. Copland was in Paris,
studying with Nadia Boulanger
Aaron Copland with his teacher
 Nadia Boulanger 
and fellow students.

and being exposed in particular to the influence of Stravinsky,
he composed this ballet, his first orchestrated score. Despite his
enthusiasm for the project, 'Grohg' was never staged and might
have been wholly forgotten had not Copland, in 1930, suddenly
required a work to enter in the RCA Victor Composers’
Competition. He returned to this ballet score and extracted three
movements to make the Dance Symphony, which stands
unnumbered between his First Symphony and the Second
Symphony. With this work, he won that competition
(along with Ernest Bloch, Robert Russell Bennett,
and Louis Gruenberg).

The work begins with a Lento Introduction, originally setting the
scene of Grohg's domain, which is followed by a Molto allegro
('Dance of the Adolescent'). This leads, via a brief Adagio molto
passage, into the second movement, Andante moderato ('Dance
of the Young Girl who Moves as if in a Dream'), and the
symphony ends with an Allegro vivo ('Dance of Mockery'), in
which Grohg's victims return to taunt him.

Dance Symphony
for Orchestra, 1925
Intro: Lento, molto allegro (1/3)
('Dance of the Adolescent')

Dance Symphony
for Orchestra, 1925
Andante moderato (2/3)
('Dance of the Young Girl who Moves as if in a Dream')

Dance Symphony
for Orchestra, 1925
Allegro vivo (3/3)
('Dance of Mockery')

As for the work itself, Copland writes:

"The Dance Symphony is divided into three distinct units. However, a thin wisp of 
transitional material connects them, and the movements must be played without 
any separating pauses. There is no thematic relationship between the movements.
There is a short, slow introduction, whereupon the first movement (Allegro) 
breaks out softly with a light, precise little motive on the bassoon, accompanied by 
plucked violins. The oboe continues the motive, slightly altered, as more fiddles 
pluck. The harp comes in to help with the plucking, then the clarinet continues a 
derivative of the little motive. There are further derivatives; presently the flute sings 
a flowing strain which might be regarded as a new motive. The plucking keeps up 
in some form, on fiddles or harp, throughout the entire movement, except for a 
few spots where the piano is substituted. A climax is worked up, at the summit of 
which the movement ends.

The second movement begins with a gentle melody prominently limned by the 
English horn over a bass in which the bass clarinet swings persistently from one of 
two notes to the other. Other woodwinds help develop the melody. Another 
melody ensues which violins and violas announce softly in canon to harp 
accompaniment. The first melody is developed into a great climax in which the 
second melody joins. 

If the first movement is thin, dainty and pointed, the second movement is songful 
and sustained. The third movement is characterized by violence and syncopation: 
Its initial jazzy motive can be heard fortissimo on the woodwinds, percussively 
reinforced by the piano, while violins, English horn and xylophone execute a 
sustained trill. A second motive soon starts fortissimo on the low strings and
trombones. A figure of reiterated notes also assumes prominence. There is an 
extended development of all the material. An amusing interruption occurs: the 
notes of the initial motive appear masquerading as an exaggeratedly languishing 
waltz. At the very end, all the motives are blazoned forth at once."
Carolina Ballet in A Street Symphony choreographed by Zalman Raffael
Grohg Ballet in One Act
Oliver Knussen, Conductor
Cleveland Orchestra
1. Introduction, cortege and entrance of Grohg 0:10
2. Dance of the adolescent 7:49
3. Dance of the opium eater 19:49
4. Dance of the streetwalker 19:49
5. Grohg imagines the dead are mocking him 23:29
6. Illumination and disappearance of Grohg 28:05

"Grohg Ballet In One Act" (as previously stated) is a product of
Copland's early compositions in Paris and the first work that he
orchestrated. Boulanger suggested Copland write a ballet because
of the popularity of Stravinsky's ballets commissioned by Sergei
Diaghilev for his Ballet Russe. Copland took as his inspiration the
German silent movie Nosferatu, a vampire film based on the novel
Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Copland asked the writer-director Harold Clurman (with whom
he was sharing a Paris apartment and with whom he would share
a common view of the world for years to come) to write a scenario
for the ballet. Clurman's scenario deals with a sorcerer that brings
corpses to life to dance for his pleasure.

Keeping with Copland's style, Grohg has dissonance and elements
of American jazz. The orchestration uses a prominent English horn
part, skeletal timbral combinations of piano and xylophone, and the
timbre of strings played col legno (struck with the wood of the bow).
These techniques enrich Copland's musical ideas without making
the music too heavy.

As Copland was not commissioned to write the work, the only
performance it got was a four-handed piano version privately
played by Copland and Boulanger. The score was revised in 1932,
but remained unperformed until the 1932 revision was found in the
Library of Congress. The work was first performed in 1992.

The work is played without pause
 but is divided into six sections:
Grohg Ballet in One Act:
I. Introduction, Cortege, and Entrance of Grohg
A slow introduction, followed by the bearers of coffins.
Copland brings the dance of the coffin bearers to a climax as
 Grohg the Sorcerer enters and the dancers pay homage to the sorcerer.

Grohg Ballet in One Act:
II. Dance of the Adolescent
Grohg revives the corpse of an adolescent who becomes terrified by Grohg.
The adolescent is struck down by the sorcerer.

Grohg Ballet in One Act:
III. Dance of The Opium-Eater
Grohg next revives the corpse of an opium addict.
The addict dances to a jazzy tune, and Grohg has pity on the addict
and removes the magic that brought him back to life.

Grohg Ballet in One Act:
IV. Dance of The Street Walker
The corpse of a streetwalker is revived and she does a dance
that impassions Grohg. He tries to embrace her, there is a struggle.

Grohg Ballet in One Act:
V. Grohg Imagines The Corpses Are Mocking Him
Grohg begins to hallucinate and imagines the corpses are mocking him.
He joins in the dance of the corpses.
Chaos ensues, and Grohg hoists the Streetwalker over his head
and throws her into the crowd.

Grohg Ballet in One Act:
VI. Illumination and Disappearance of Grohg
The stage turns dark save for a light focused on Grohg's head,
and he slowly disappears to music that echos back to the beginning.