Uploaded on Jan 30, 2012
Morton Gould (1913-1996)
Fall River Legend: Ballet Suite (1947)
00:00 - Prologue & Waltzes
03:30 - Elegy
06:25 - Church Social
10:27 - Hymnal Variations
14:23 - Cotillion
17:54 - Epilogue
Performed by the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra under the direction of Howard Hanson. Recorded by Mercury in 1960.
"Number 92 Second Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, was in August of the year 1892 the scene of a bloody crime which became one of the most notorious in the history of the United States. Andrew Borden, an elderly, respected citizen, and his second wife, Anne Gray Borden, were found hacked to death in separate rooms of their quiet home. Mr. Borden's 33-year-old daughter, a quiet, sedate gentlewoman, was charged with the murder. To the minds of the New Englanders, the charge was inconceivable; and, according to historians of the case, that was the chief strength of Lizzie's defense.
"The excitement surrounding the trial grew chiefly from the contrast of the brutal crime and the respectability of the household. (This is illustrated in Gould's score by the juxtaposition of hymn-tune and modern dissonance.) The facts of the case were confused and ultimately unresolved. The character of Miss Lizzie remained obscure, her activities in the period before and after the trial commonplace and routine. After the initial inquest, nothing further was heard from Miss Lizzie; according to Massachusetts law, the accused may or may not give testimony -- Miss Lizzie declined. Fragile testimony in her favor was given by her sister, Miss Emma. Overwhelming testimony was against her. The final word of her defender found its mark. 'To find her guilty, you must believe she is a fiend. Gentlemen, does she look it?' The answer, of course, was No, and Lizzie Borden was acquitted. She returned to the house at 92 Second Street, and for the remainder of her 34 years of life lived alone, quietly and respectably on her inheritance, active only in her charity work. On her death, she left $30,000 to a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
"The taciturn, colorless figure of Lizzie Borden, the inconclusiveness of the trial, the lack of definition in the reasons for the murder were, it would seem, impossible to utilize in a 'legend.' The hard facts, however inconclusive, prevented this. To write a musical 'legend,' a history of an archetypal murderess, it was necessary to make something of Lizzie Borden.
"Mr. Gould and his choreographer, Agnes de Mille, utilized not only the music of one time and one place, but retold the story in the new iconography of Sigmund Freud. In this, the 'square' of their work was completed: hymn and New England dance tunes presented in a modern style; the classic manner of Puritan New England presented as Psychological Repression. The legendary quality is strengthened by emphasizing the popular belief that Miss Lizzie was guilty. The artists imaginatively carry this assumption to a conclusion as it might have existed in the minds of the people, and Miss Lizzie is hanged.
"The ballet, a Prologue, Seven Scenes, and Epilogue, with decor by Oliver Smith, was first presented by the Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House in April 1948. The work was an immediate success." - John Scrymgeour