Balkan Suite, The (from

Joseph Bertolozzi

About this work:
Excerpted from the ballet score BOSKO AND ADMIRA, I created this suite for a smaller orchestral instrumentation than the original [winds/brass in pairs rather than quadruple winds/brass]. It features six dances depicting each of the countries which made up the former Yugoslavia, ie: Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Though the works capture the musical spirit of each country, all the music is original (and highly stylized). There are no authentic folk melodies in this score. The ballet's scenario deals with events in 1993 during the war in Sarajevo. The synopsis and full scenario follow below: BOSKO AND ADMIRA A Ballet in One Act, three scenes Based on a true story with Music and scenario by Joseph Bertolozzi SYNOPSIS SARAJEVO – At 4p.m. on May 19, 1993, two young lovers, one Serbian the other Muslim, were killed while trying to cross over to the Serbian side of the Miljacka River from the Vrbana Bridge, a small, local crossing. They were supposed to have been able to travel under a pre-arranged guarantee of safe passage, but were shot by snipers about fifty yards from safety. While Bosko was killed instantly, Admira lived long enough to crawl over to Bosko and drape her arm over his body in a last embrace. BOSKO AND ADMIRA A Ballet in One Act, three scenes Scene 1 Set: Sarajevo 1990, before the dissolution of the old Yugoslavia. An old-style city square festooned for the national Holiday of the Republic. Stage left we see a large wall with an oversize mural (really a projection) of Tito. Stage right there is a large masonry pedestal supporting a monument to the Yugoslav peoples. Somewhat behind this is an abutment of a small bridge that empties into the square. In the square is a large crowd of people, some dressed casually, others in traditional garb. Silhouettes of church steeples stage right and minarets & mosques stage left spike the skyline in the distance. 1] The Day of the Republic celebrations are at their height. 2] Folk dancers take center stage with several traditional (or stylized, for our purposes) dances. 3] Almost imperceptibly, the picture of Tito has slowly faded away. In its place, projected images of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Boris Yeltsin atop a tank shaking his fist at the Army, and other such images catch everyone’s attention. 4] Inspired by this new freedom that is in the air, one exuberant group runs over to destroy the monument, while the remaining members of the crowd join together dancing, expressing triumph in their newfound freedom; one couple in particular, Bosko and Admira, emerges as the focus of attention. 5] The group over at the monument has divided into two rival gangs. They break up the dancing, forcibly separating the members of the crowd and delineating a clear division between their respective sides. 6] Bosko and Admira are separated. Bosko is physically restrained from crossing back to Admira. He is roughed up by the toughs on his side of the line and then pushed back and forth over the line to be roughed up by both sides. The unequivocal message is that Serbian boys don’t mix well anymore with Muslim girls. Both sides exit warily into the wings. Scene 2 Set: The same square at night, three years later. The square is ravaged from war. The bridge is barricaded. The steeples and minarets have eerily inclined toward each other giving the impression of aimed missiles. 1] A midnight tryst between Bosko and Admira. {after this love scene, the sky gradually lightens until it is morning by #5 below; the steeples & minarets also slowly, imperceptibly, right themselves to their proper angle by #5} 2] They hear a commotion, hide behind the rubble of the monument, and witness the execution of civilians by Serbian guerillas (whom we recognize as half of the group of thugs from Scene 1). Bosko and Admira are discovered and rousted to the wall for their own execution. 3] Soldiers of the Sarajevan government (the other half of the Scene 1 thugs) creep into the square to investigate the sound of the shooting. When noticed by the Serbs, a gunfight almost erupts. Admira runs between the two factions, addressing each side, imploring them to free her and her lover. 4] Both sides relent. The time of the safe-conduct is drawn on the wall by one of the gunmen who dips his finger into the blood of one of the bodies and draws the circle of a clock face, with the hands of the clock indicating 4 o’clock. All exit warily. 5] It is now morning. As the last soldier exits, two small girls come skipping in and kneel down to play a game of tic tac toe on the wall with chalk. When the game is over, as they get up to leave, one child takes the chalk and extends the minute hand of the clock upward and downward to touch the circle itself; she extends the hour hand out to the circle, and draws another hand out from the center line to the eight: a peace sign. They run playfully off. Scene 3 Set: Same place, the next day, just before 4pm. The barricade has been removed from the entrance to the bridge. 1] Exhilarated but anxious, Bosko arrives in the deserted square to wait for Admira. He frequently checks his watch. 2] Admira arrives and she is swept into his movement. With one final pause he checks his watch; they rush for the bridge. 3] An immense burst of gunfire brings them down immediately; we never see from whom or from where the barrage has come. With one final act of strength, Admira crawls to Bosko, draping her arm over his lifeless body in a last embrace. (Curtain)
Version: Reduced Orchestra, by Composer
Year composed: 2003
Duration: 00:15:00
Ensemble type: Orchestra:Standard Orchestra
Instrumentation notes: 2(picc).2(ca).2.2./optional reedpipe./ 4.2.1+2btrb.1.PERCUSSION: 2 sets of timp=2 sets of roto-toms; marimba; 1 high maraca; 1 low maraca; suspended crash cymbal; piatti; tambourine; snare drum; bass (or deeply pitched) frame drum or dauli; orchestral bass drum; Traps: floor tom; snare drum; kick bass drum; 1 splash, 1 high crash, 1 low crash and hi-hat cymbals; Optional Acoustic guitar, mandolin or ethnic lute); harp. piano (opt. doubling synth); strings.

Joseph Bertolozzi's profile »