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Samuel Barber

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Medea’s Dance of Vengeance (1955), 23 a
G Schirmer Inc
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
14 Minutes
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Programme Note
Samuel Barber Medea’s Dance of Vengeance (1955), 23 a
Composer note:

The score of Medea was commissioned by the Ditson Fund of Columbia University and was first danced by Martha Graham and her company at the MacMillan Theater in New York in May, 1946. Miss Graham, to whom the score is dedicated, uses the title Cave of the Heart. In December of 1948, the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene Ormandy, introduced the orchestral suite in seven movements. The present version, rescored for large orchestra in 1955, is in one continuous movement and is based on material from the ballet which is directly related to the central character, Medea. Tracing her emotions from her tender feelings towards her children, through her mounting suspicions and anguish at her husband’s betrayal and her decision to avenge herself, the piece increases in intensity to close in the frenzied Dance of Vengeance of Medea, the Sorceress descended from the Sun God.

Medea: “Look, my soft eyes have suddenly filled with tears:
   O children, how ready to cry I am, how full of foreboding!
   Jason wrongs me, though I have never injured him.
   He has taken a wife to his house, supplanting me . . .
   Now I am in the full force of the storm of hate.
   I will make dead bodies of three of my enemies –
      father, the girl and my husband!
   Come, Medea, whose father was noble,
   Whose grandfather God of the sun,
   Go forward to the dreadful act.”

— Samuel Barber

  • G. Schirmer:
  • Ensemble
    Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    Neeme Järvi
  • Ensemble
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Marin Alsop
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