Ancestor Suite

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Ancestor Suite


“The eleven short sections of the Ancestor Suite are from a Getty ballet which was premiered in Moscow in 2009 and is based on the 1839 Poe short story The Fall of the House of Usher. Some of the movements sound perfectly tuneful and upbeat, while others have a subtle macabre edge to them as befits the stimulus for the ballet…”
John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, 2014

SYNOPSIS
As the pure but weakened Madeline enters, the Ancestors shrink against the walls in terror, as vampires from a crucifix. She curtsies to Roderick and gives Poe a flower. Madeline dances with Roderick as the Ancestors clap soundlessly. Then Madeline dances with Poe while the Ancestors join in the dance. Madeline pauses, confused. Poe and the Ancestors stop but Madeline begins again. Only she hears the music, and she alone dances to it, becoming a whirling dervish. Suddenly the music stops, and the Ancestors retreat to watch Madeline who seems dazed. The Ancestors take a step towards Madeline, then another step, and another. Madeline collapses. Doctor Primus indicates that she is dead, and Roderick collapses in grief while a stunned Poe comforts him.

  • For orchestra or piano
  • Duration: 27:00
  • Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story

Zwei Walzer
Waltz of the Ancestors
Schottische 
Walt- Ländler 
Polka - Polonaise 
Gavotte
Gothic Waltz 
March - Sarabande - Presto 
Madeline 
Ewig Du 
Finale 

Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 horns, 1 trumpet, 2 trombones, tuba, 2 percussion, 1 keyboard, strings
Perusal score available upon request

Stream Ancestor Suite on the album Orchestral Works

Stream Ancestor Suite on the album Piano Pieces

COMPOSER’S NOTES
Ancestor Suite is loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Eddie Poe has arrived at Usher House to visit his old schoolchum Roderick Usher and his twin sister Madeline. A ball has been organized in his honor. The dancers are the spectral ancestors of the Usher line, led by the founder of the Covenant that has given them immortality, Lord Primus Usher. Poe and Roderick watch. Madeline enters in her nightclothes. She is mad, but pure, like Ophelia; she has refused to sign the Covenant. The ancestors, apart from Primus, shrink back in terror. Madeline gives Poe a flower, and dances with Roderick (Madeline). The ancestors clap soundlessly. She then dances with Poe (Ewig Du), but begins hearing a wilder tune, and dances to it alone. She falls at a climax, and Primus indicates that she is dead.

Photo: From the Welsh National Opera production of Usher House / © Stephen Cummiskey

 

Listen to Conrad Tao playing “Ancestor Suite”

Reviews

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Gordon Getty…composes facile but propulsive music, to which this CD makes a good introduction. In the space of 12 minutes, the delectable overture to his opera Plump Jack, based on Shakespeare’s immortal Falstaff, creates a juicy musical characterization of the Bard’s unforgettable fat man. The discs’ other works, which include the Ancestor Suite and the Homework Suite, have the same attractive qualities as the overture, and they are all played robustly by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner.
Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, 2014

It’s enjoyable enough, albeit in a slightly anodyne way…Getty’s Ancestor Suite, from his ballet based on Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher, is well crafted but ultimately rather leaden—not at all what one expects from a dance score. There are pleasing instrumental touches, the vaulting brass figures in the Waltz – Ländler especially attractive, and there are more than a few memories of Copland at his most homespun. As for the Polka – Polonaise, there’s a hint of Arnold’s Tam O’Shanter, the ensuing Gavotte most gracefully turned…”
Dan Morgan
Music Web International, 2011

The eleven short sections of the Ancestor Suite are from a Getty ballet which was premiered in Moscow in 2009 and is based on the 1839 Poe short story The Fall of the House of Usher. Some of the movements sound perfectly tuneful and upbeat, while others have a subtle macabre edge to them as befits the stimulus for the ballet…The usual excellent hi-res surround quality provided by PentaTone makes it easy for those of us not heavily into vocal music to get a taste of the instrumental compositional style of Gordon Getty.
John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, 2014