• William Schuman
  • Casey at the Bat, A Baseball Cantata (1976)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2/4331/timp.3perc/pf/str
  • SATB
  • Soprano, Baritone [Reciter]
  • 40 min

Programme Note

Before the Game

1. Noon of the Big Day (Orchestra)
2. The Championship of the State (Watchman and Merry)
3. The Mighty Casey (Watchman and Fans)
4. Autograph (A Young Fan)
5. You Look So Sweet Today (Watchman)
6. Kiss Me Not Goodbye (Merry)

The Game

7. Last Half of the Ninth (Orchestra and Fans)
8. Two Out (Merry, Watchman and Fans)
9. If Only Casey (Merry, Watchman and Fans)
10. A Prayer (Merry)
11. Surprise (Fans)
12. This Gladdened Multitude (Fans)
13. It Looked Extremely Rocky (Watchman)
14. You’re Doin’ Fine Kid (Thatcher, Centerville Catcher)
15. That Ain’t My Style (Watchman)
16. Rhubarb
• ‘Ya Blind (Chant of the Fans)
• I’m Fed to the Teeth (Manager’s Song)
• A Strike’s a Strike (Umpire’s Song)
• Rhubarb Music (Orchestra)
17. With a Smile of Christian Charity (Watchman)
18. Hist’ry Hangs on a Slender Thread (Fans and Fireball Snedeker, Centerville Pitcher)
19. The Sneer Has Gone from Casey’s Lips (Watchman)

After the Game

20. Oh, Somewhere (Requiem) (Fans, Merry and Watchman)

(Performed without pause.)

Composer Note

The composer supplied the following note on “Casey at the Bat” on the occasion of its world premiere, as part of an all-Schuman program performed by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Westminster Choir under Antal Dorati, April, 1976:

Casey at the Bat was completed in January 1976 and is a concert version of The Mighty Casey, my Baseball Opera, first produced in May of 1953. It was Leonard Bernstein who suggested to me that the Casey music should also be made available as a cantata which could be performed by symphony orchestras with chorus and soloists. As I was planning music for the Bicentennial, my original enthusiasm for the Casey legend was rekindled, and I felt a strong urge to issue the alternate version. I agree wholeheartedly with Jacques Barzum’s penetrating observations on baseball in his book, God’s Country and Mine:

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…The wonderful purging of the passions that we all experience in the fall of ’51, the despair groaned out over the fate of the Dodgers, from whom the League pennant was snatched at the last minute, gives us some idea of what Greek tragedy was like. Baseball is Greek in being national, heroic, and broken up in the rivalries of city-states…Americans understand baseball, the true realm of clear ideas.”

Casey at the Bat illustrates Barzun’s thesis. In the fans we have our Greek chorus commenting, philosophizing and in their own way actively participating. And in the solo performers, too, as each fulfills a predestined role: the strong, silent hero, Casey; his demure and understanding sweet-heart, Merry; the watchman—wise old veteran; the garrulous manager, with his real and simulated loss of temper; the imperturbable and imperious umpire; the reassuring catcher; the brainy pitcher; the worshipping fan seeking Casey’s autograph; and the specific mood predictable for each changing situation.

In transferring Casey at the Bat from the stage to the concert hall many changes were made, some of them major. For example, the entire work had to be expanded for a full symphony orchestra and orchestrated for some hundred players to replace the original pit band of some 20-25 players. New music had to be composed for the soprano and baritone as well as a new ending for the chorus and orchestra. In making these and other changes, my aim was to preserve the essential drama while deleting all materials that seemed germane only to a fully staged production. In the Cantata, the performers are at liberty to present the work as a straight concert piece or with some theatrical embellishments which, as the score indicates, are suggested but not mandatory.

It should be noted that the verses immediately before numbers 14 and 18 are additions by Mr. Gury to Mr. Thayer’s poem. The Cantata is dedicated to my son, Anthony William Schuman.

—William Schuman