Commissioned by eighth blackbird and Lunapark and funded by The Doelen Concert Hall, Rotterdam, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, and Muziekgebouw Frits Philips, Eindhoven, with the financial support of The Van Beinum Foundation, The Netherlands.
Oh, listen to my story, I’ll tell you no lies,
How John Lewis did murder poor little Omie Wise.
The murder ballad has its roots in a European tradition, in which grisly details of bloody homicides are recounted through song. When this tradition came to America, it developed its own vernacular. In Murder Ballades, Dessner crafts original music inspired by the seductive strains, violent stories, and playing styles of these ballads. His Omie Wise, Young Emily, and Pretty Polly are loosely inspired by classic tunes, while Dark Holler is Dessner’s own melody, and draws on the sound of the clawhammer banjo style often heard in performances of these songs. Brushy Fork is a Civil War-era murder ballad/fiddle tune. Wave the Sea and Tears for Sister Polly are original compositions woven out of the depths of this strange corner of American music. Bryce Dessner (born 1976) is a composer, electric guitarist, and artistic director, at home in many musical worlds. His compositions draw on elements of Baroque and folk music, late Romanticism and modernism, minimalism, and the blues. Murder Ballades was commissioned by eighth blackbird and Lunapark and funded by The Doelen Concert Hall, Rotterdam, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, and Muziekgebouw Frits Philips, Eindhoven, with the financial support of The Van Beinum Foundation, The Netherlands, with additional support from Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and also by LA Dance Project, 2013 for the work of the same name choreographed by Justin Peck.