09 July 2017

The outline is everything, the outline is nothing

White Nights is unusual for me.  Really, I don’t normally work on anything for such a long period.  (It helps, in this case, that there have been long intervals of inactivity.)  Even allowing for those intervals, though, this piece has been part of my musical activity for so long, that I forget certain facts about the process.  I had forgotten that I made a symphonic band arrangement of the Egyptian Dance, for example.

For so many years, I have thought of the ballet as a full evening’s affair, the music running more than two hours, that I had forgotten it ever being otherwise.  Imagine my surprise upon looking again, years later, at what is probably the first outline of the whole ballet, drawn up in 2003, proposing a complete running time of 64 minutes.

—It is tempting to say, The piece could have been done by now! but of course I must never have written any of the music to that scale.  When I was done writing the Overture, and found that it ran almost 11 minutes, that was reasonably within Plan;  but when the first Scene ran almost 13 minutes, rather than three, and we still had not seen anything of Nastenka . . . some adjustment was clearly needed.

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