Copland called his 40-minute ballet score Grohg “the most ambitious undertaking of my Paris [student] years.”[CC, 35] Written between 1922 and 1924 and revised in 1932, Grohg was never produced as a ballet and is now withdrawn. Yet he considered it representative of his mature style, and its musical ideas have enriched at least six related Copland works, which typifies Copland’s career-long penchant for self-borrowing. Because Grohg is withdrawn, anyone wanting to hear or perform any of its music will need to understand the complex relationships among the related works.

Grohg family of works

  • Grohg (1922-24, rev. 1932)
    • Published 1993-2006 Withdrawn.
  • Dance Symphony (1929)
    • 3-movement published score, derived from various sections of Grohg
    • Originally published by Cos Cob[CC, 69, 72] and premiered by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra on April 15, 1931[CC, 81]
  • Hear Ye! Hear Ye! (ballet for Ruth Page)
    • Uses some of mvts 3 & 4[HP, 86] in Scene VIII.[RLL, 149] Withdrawn.
  • Organ Symphony
    • Uses some of the Streetwalker music (Grohg mvt 4)
  • Dance of the Adolescent
    • 2-piano transcription of mvt. 2 of Grohg
  • Cortège Macabre
    • Grohg mvt. 1; published by Cos Cob, 1925.; withdrawn ca. 1927
  • Petites Valses
    • Unpublished juvenilia, source material and sketches for Grohg

Copland and Boulanger gave an unofficial piano-four-hands premiere of the complete ballet at Boulanger’s apartment in 1924, and Copland orchestrated it in 1925 after his return to New York. When he revised Grohg in 1932, Copland omitted section 5, “Dance of the Beautiful Young Girl,” and shortened the work by about ten minutes.[HP, 87] Oliver Knussen reconstructed “the original score” in 1992 and gave the premiere in Aldeburgh with the London Sinfonietta. Knussen later recorded this with the Cleveland Orchestra on Argo Records and Boosey & Hawkes published the ballet in 1993; Grohg was withdrawn ca. 2006.

The ballet Grohg has six (originally seven) sections:
  1. Cortège macabre, or “Introduction, Cortège and Entrance of Grohg” (aka. servitors’ dirge). This section features a 3-note knocking rhythm.
  2. “Dance of the Adolescent” (1st dance) (note: singular Adolescent)
  3. Dance of the Opium Eater (2nd dance)
  4. Dance of the Streetwalker (3rd dance, “apache dance”)
    (Dance of the Beautiful Young Girl - longer version only)
  5. Dance of Mockery (“allegro vivo”)
  6. Illumination and Disappearance of Grohg (reprise of opening)

Three items in Copland’s current catalog were extracted from Grohg:

  1. Cortège macabre (1925, Section 1 of Grohg), which became Copland’s first formal orchestral work, but was withdrawn in 1927 after a few performances by Howard Hanson.
  2. Dance of the Adolescent, extracted from Grohg as a stand-alone two-piano arrangement.[CC, 35]
  3. Dance Symphony (1929), which uses various previously unused portions of Grohg.[HP, 86]
Dance Symphony

Timings taken from Copland’s recording with the London Symphony Orchestra; in consultation with score:

  • I. Introduction: Lento (score p.3) -- Introduction
    • --Molto Allegro (score p.5, 1:48) -- Dance of the Adolescent
    • --Adagio Molto (score p.32, 6:00)
  • II. Andante Moderato (score p.33, 7:09) -- Dance of the Beautiful Young Girl
  • III. Allegro Vivo (score p.46, 13:09-18:12) -- Dance of Mockery, up to final coda

Sources consulted, 2018:

  • Beggerow, Alan. “Copland - Grohg - Ballet In One Act.” https://muswrite.blogspot.com/2012/10/copland-grohg-ballet-in-one-act.html, Accessed 2 July 2018.
  • Copland, Aaron. Dance Symphony New York: Boosey & Hawkes, 1958.
  • Copland, Aaron and Vivian Perlis. The Complete Copland. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2013. (Rev. ed. of Copland 1900-1942, St. Martin’s/Marek, 1984 and Copland: Since 1943, St. Martin’s, 1989.) [CC]
  • Lindsey, Roberta Lewise.“An Historical and Musical Study of Aaron Copland's First Orchestral Work: Grohg, a Ballet in One Act.” Ph.D. diss, Ohio State University, 1996. OhioLINK OSU document no.: osu1261410359. [RLL]
  • Pollack, Howard. Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man. New York: Henry Holt, 1999. [HP]
Author
Jennifer DeLapp-Birkett
Year
2018