Man Lebt Nur Einmal (Darum Tanzen Wir)

Dance Suite for Large Orchestra

Samuel Adler

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Duration: 23:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

This is the second work I have been privileged to compose for the Nationaltheater Orchester, and it, like the first is dedicated to it. The first of the works was the Concerto for Woodwind Quintet and Orchestra written to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart, a composer so intimately connected to Mannheim and its orchestra, performed in the 1991-1992 season. The second work is a dance suite commissioned to recall the glory and renown of the 18th century ensemble which was not only the pride and joy of Carl Philip and Carl Theodor?s court, but venerated by the musical circles of all of Europe.

The poet C.F.D. Schubart in a letter to Mozart wrote: ?No orchestra in the world has ever excelled the one in Mannheim. Its forte is a thunderclap, its crescendo a cataract, its diminuendo a crystal stream babbling away into the distance, its piano a breath of spring. The wind instruments are everything they should be: they raise and carry, or fill and inspire the storm of the strings.?

Reading the history of the orchestra for the past 250 years, one is inspired by the breadth of literature it has presented from symphonic works and opera to chamber music and sacred music. In its early years the function of the orchestra was to entertain at court functions, and looking at the lists of works of the early Mannheim composers such as Stamitz, Richter, Cannabich and others, one finds a great many serenades, intermezzi, and dances besides symphonies, operas and concerti. When I was asked to write a work for the ?04-?05 season, it was decided that a dance suite would be appropriate and celebratory. Therefore I have created this suite of five dances. These are dances of the 18th century, with the exception of the slow movement which is a Pavane.

1. The first dance is a Rumble. This is not a particular kind of dance, but rather a group activity made famous in the dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. It is relentless and a wild dance starting out with solo percussion and then aggressively engaging the orchestra in a virtuoso exercise of an endlessly whirling dance fury.
2. The second dance is called Verschleierter-Walzer (Veiled Waltz). The orchestra is asked to perform this entire waltz pianissimo throughout as if one would be watching people dancing a waltz through a veil. I quoted above that the Mannheim Orchestra was renown for its ability to play extremely softly. The orchestra can still do this beautifully and I ask it to demonstrate that skill again here. The feeling of this movement is of a true waltz.
3. Erratische Rumba is the title of the third movement. It is a representation of a South American rumba, but erratic in character since it changes meter frequently so as to give the traditional rumba rhythm a non- traditional more experimental flavor. This is true of the first and third part of the dance. The middle part is a contrast with stable rhythm and a rather sweet feeling before the music returns to the boisterous and more erratic first section.
4. This is a more traditional Pavane, a stately and slow dance of Spanish origin, but often used in Western European dance suites. It is an old dance first introduced in the 16th century and used by English and German composers often in the first half of the 17th century and thereafter. In my composition it begins with a long clarinet melody which is taken up and varied by the other woodwind instruments throughout the brief dance.

5. Tarantella ? The final dance returns to the wild relentless spirit of the first, but using the rhythm of the tarantella, an Italian dance which spread like wild fire through Europe. A legend has it that to dance the tarantella is the only cure for the effects of a bite by a Tarantula spider which if one does not dance hard enough can drive a person to insanity. Therefore this last dance must keep both the orchestra as well as the listeners constantly twirling.

The work is about 18 to 20 minutes in length.

Scores & Parts

Man Lebt Nur Einmal - Full Score - Study
Man Lebt Nur Einmal - Full Score - Large

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by The Musikalische Akademie des Nationaltheater-Orchesters, Mannheim
Composition Date 2004
Orchestration 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere February, 1st 2005, Nationaltheater-Orchester Mannheim, conducted by Peter Sommer


I. Rumble
II. Verschleierter-Walzer (Veiled Waltz)
III. Erratische Rumba (Erratic Rumba)
IV. Pavane
V. Tarantella

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