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Per Nørgård : Le jeune homme à marier

Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Sub-Category Ballet
40 Minutes
Solo Voice(s) 4 Voices
alt.: Soprano, Alto, Baritone; 1.1.2+bcl.1/
Availability Hire  Explain this...

Programme Note

THE YOUNG MAN MUST BE MARIED (Le jeune homme á marier (1964) – music for a large orchestra, for a Television-ballet by Flemming Flindt, based on an idea by Eugéne Ionesco.

The ballet is about a young man, who must be married, that is he must follow his parents’ wishes and the normal social behavior. But he is a rebel. The family tries to entice him with a woman – a woman with 3 faces. He starts to get interested…
The music uses many associations, social clichés, sound quotations – a collage of soundscapes of Die Welt von Gestern, mixed with a modern sensibility of my own music, based on my so-called infinity series and the many layered possibilities in this technique (also used in the opera “The Labyrinth” and in “Fragment I-VII” in different instrumentations). The sounding collage world represents the outer world, my own music the psychological, inner world of the young man and his development. Sometimes the two are combined and interwoven. That is what interests me: working with the whole spectrum.
Per Nørgård



Scene 1: Mother and Daughter.
First the mother makes a dance of entreaty, solicitous, trying the old “Think of all that I´ve sacrificed for you”. The sister joins in.

Scene 2: Grandfather´s Song.
Grandfather rolls his wheel chair over to and around The Young Man, and sings some meaningless stanzas.

Scene 3: The Father.
Now Father comes forth to put his son to rights. He can barely control himself.

Scene 4: The Young Man.
The young man rises slowly from his chair, moves a little, says “yes” without conviction, and sits again.

Scene 5: Parody and Nodding Dance.
Father demands a more definite acquiescence. The son nods, rises and agrees with the father — with rhythmic head movements spreading to the whole family and developing into a rhythmic dance of joy. Only the young man isn´t jubilant. He participates mechanically.

Scene 6: Enter the Parents-in-law.
The in-laws make their entrance with bombastically round, wheeled movements.

Scene 7: The Geisha Bride.
Bashful, affected, a girl dances … in her bridal gown for the young man. He rises, and…all eyes follow him excitedly until he suddenly shakes his head and throws the flower, which stays stuck like an arrow in the wall.

Scene 8: The Families´ First Protest.
The family protests loudly. Father leads, wife and daughter following. Grandfather sings the same incomprehensible words. Grandmother wheels him away and hits him over the head. The in-laws say that there is nothing to worry about.

Scene 9: The Bride of Steel.
She dances in, provocative, sensual, and self-assured. The young man refuses vehemently to take her bouquet.

Scene 10: The Families´ Second Protest.
The family is scandalized over the hopeless son who won´t save them. The father-in-law calms them. All is not lost.

Scene 11: The Doll Bride.
Father-in-law carries the third bride in. She is doll-like, moving in jerks and twitches. The scene ends with the Doll Bride jerking the bouquet towards the young man. He takes it, she lifts her veil, then he shakes his head five times and hurls the bouquet in rebuff. The Doll Bride swoons in the father-in-law´s arms and he helps her away.

Scene 12: The Two Whispering Brides.
As the third bride leaves, two more enter; one from each side of the stage and meet at center background, whispering. Both brides have each two bouquets, which they almost juggle. Father-in-law comes running back and brings his two slatternly daughters to order, and prepares a more formal presentation. At the moment the young man takes the bouquets, another bride comes jumping in. She catches his attention and the bouquets are tossed carelessly aside.

Scene 13: The Jumping Bride.
She is constantly leaping towards the young man, away from him, sometimes paying him no attention, dancing and hopping for herself. Meanwhile the Doll Bride has come to her senses, and stands now expectantly; then dies, making staccato movements.

Scene 14: Alone?
The Jumping Bride´s rhythm persists, and the young man´s confusion and panic reaches a climax, while the family members slide up the walls.

Scene 15: Bridal March and Dance.
Eight brides come at the young man from all sides, threatening, veils blowing out behind them. All have bouquets which they reach towards the young man in outstretched arms. He moves as though caught in a net; sometimes in his chair, sometimes driven from the girls´ pursuit, sometimes curled up in a corner. At last the brides decide to look for better hunting elsewhere, and march out in a closed body.
Shaken, the young man rushes to the door to be sure that they are gone…

Scene 16: The Last Bride!
The family slide down the walls and approach, with spidery movements, “la plus belle”. They sniff, smell, crawl, lift up her dress, and make enthusiastic exclamations. The bride turns her three faces, which sing gently out from the auditorium walls.

Scene 17: Rejection. Indignation. Reassurance.
Also the last, the three-headed bride repels the young man. The family rages a new, until the father-in-law again reassures them and persuades them to leave with him. Let the young people be alone!

Scene 18: Seduction.
The bride stands on a “quiet” stage. The young man pretends that he does not suspect her presence. She glides imperceptibly with “invisible” steps out from the background. This forward motion becomes, little by little, a circle around the young man. The circle completed, the bride begins her dance with the voices: first the soft and shy; then the proud, hard and self-assured; and lastly the strong, warm, erotic voice. The bride looks on him for the first time and approaches to touch his hand. Just as she is about to reach it he leaps out of the chair and hides behind it, with only his head showing at floor-level. Again she reaches for him and again he jumps away, and up the stair. A vacuum cleaner rolls on stage. The young man comes slowly down the stair and nears the bride, who is busy vacuuming. She shows her other virtues; for example, how well she dances ballet. A piano rolls towards her. Her playing slowly hypnotizes the young man. Throughout the pas de deux he is in the power of the bride and of his own emotions. She helps and leads him, as one would lead an artist that has forgotten the tricks. He improves and is soon balancing and somersaulting like a circus poodle. In these scenes, where the bride is commanding him, he achieves certainty through growing erotic fascination.
Now the bride is at center stage, clothed only in fleshing, veil and her masks. First, the young man strolls and swaggers in a circle, then faster and faster as the bride makes steadily more violent motions with whip-like arms, until he falla exhausted at her feet.
Quiet rules the stage. He lies on the floor with one arm stretched up towards the bride. His hand searches for hers, while her hands “swim” round about his, which slowly sinks to the floor. The bride stands behind him, and then makes some large, rounded turns with her body, arms outstretched. She embraces the young man in her lap, and then slowly bends so that her veil covers him.

Scene 19: The Families´ Entry.
The scenery glides into place. Father rolls in on the chest of drawers. Grand-father is in his wheel chair. Mother walks alone and the daughter enter driving a huge bellows-camera. Then Sister takes the chapel train and places it around the bride´s shoulders, preparing her for the family portrait. Then the members of the family are put by the sister in a grotesque group around the ”happy” couple. Lastly, she lifts her brother´s head up under the arm of the bride. That is all there is to be seen of the groom. The rest of his body is covered by her cape. The in-laws walk with rolling slow-motion movements.

Scene 20: The Wedding.
A joyous feast with drinking songs breaks out in honor of the happy young people. The family exults, each member makes a little speech, then they dance a merry-go-round with the couple in the center, and singing that now they must abandon then newlyweds to their bliss.
The family has vanished. The young man, too, is out of sight, completely swallowed up in the bride´s great white cape. The bride stands alone, elevated like a goddess with her three faces, her hands, her veil.
The light falls on her so that the scenery is not to be seen. She seems to be alone in the great space, with lights which play on the facets of her faces. Also this light, at last, slowly sinks.

Per Nørgård


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