Archive for August 15th, 2014

August 15, 2014

“Dybbuk Variations” by Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein and Boris Pasternak foto

Leonard Bernstein and Boris Pasternak

August 16 is the anniversary of the 1974 “Dybbuk Variations” world premiere. For the premiere Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic in Auckland, New Zealand. In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a wandering soul which enters into a living person and talks through his mouth, presenting a separate and alien personality. The story of  Bernstein’s ballet, based on S. Ansky’s play of the same title, follows two young lovers secretly pledged to each other. The pledge is broken by the girl’s father, who betroths her to another, causing the boy to die of a broken heart. The boy becomes a dybbuk and enters the body of his beloved; making her act as though she is possessed. The girl is then forced to decide whether to marry her new suitor or enter a union with the dybbuk, she chooses the latter. Bernstein’s use of Kabbalistic numerology resulted in harmonic dissonance and irregular rhythms, helping paint this dark tale. 

The University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra is playing Dybbuk Suite No. 2.: