Order of the Cynthian Palm

Dorian Gray

In "The Picture of Dorian Gray" though I have used different styles, vaguely Schubertian or Brahmsian as well as freely atonal and serial, it would be oversimplified to say I associate the latter two with sin or evil. In fact, I use them when I think appropriate; for example: satirically as in the wind Variations, mysteriously ("The Phantom Trumpet") or to express strong or fraught moods (Memorial 3). I do think that most of the academic uses of serialism are impossible for most listeners to really take in and I don't use those non-structural approaches.

In fact, though I long ago lost my taste for writing consistently in those styles which I've found much more limiting than tonal styles, I've spent considerable time, more than anywhere else, in composing and sequencing these sections in this work.

It may be helpful for me to put in a link to a summary of the original Wilde novel.

My composition is in the form of a set of variations and an interlude with the theme as seen through the eyes of Dorian and Basil Hallward, the painter of the portrait. The first variation represents Dorian and the poisonous Lord Henry Wooton who begins to corrupt Dorian's soul. Dorian wishes that his face can remain unchanged and the portrait can age instead. His wish is granted.

The second variation is a minuet representing Dorian's falling madly in love with Sybil Vane, a young actress. But when Sybil reciprocates, she loses her acting ability and Dorian loses his interest and he jilts her. Despite Dorian's trying to make amends to Sybil, she commits suicide.

In the third variation, Dorian asks Basil to come up to his attic to see how the painting has become corrupted. Basil is shocked and asks Dorian to pray and repent. Dorian, however, stabs Basil and leaves his body in the locked room.

In Variation 4, Dorian has enlisted the aid, through blackmail, of a former friend Alan Campbell, a chemist, to destroy Basil's body. (I use a freely atonal style here to represent Dorian's now thoroughly corrupt character). Alan reluctantly complies and he too commits suicide.

Sybil Vane's brother James recognizes Dorian but is confused because of his youthful appearance years after his sister's death. During a hunt at Dorian's country estate, James is accidently killed. (Variation 5.)

In the serial-technique interlude, Dorian repents and, in an attempt to free himself, he stabs his portrait. He dies instantly and they find the body of a hideous old man whom they recognize by his rings. But the portrait has miraculously reverted to it's original, uncorrupt appearance. (Original theme.)

Edward Gold

Download "The Picture of Dorian Gray" 
for piano four hands. Gold Base version (5.7 MB)

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