• Jeff Beal
  • House of Cards Suite (full-length)

  • MRC (World)

From the television/new media series 'House of Cards'

  • 2+pic.2+ca.2.2/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.3perc/hp.pf/elec bgtr/str
  • 16 min

Programme Note

Related works:
   House of Cards Fantasy
   House of Cards Suite (full-length)
   House of Cards Suite (abridged)
   House of Cards Symphony

The Suite from House Of Cards was completed in in April of 2014. It was premiered by the Oakland Youth Symphony in honor of their 50 year anniversary. I grew up in the San Fransisco bay area, and played trumpet in this fine youth orchestra. When Maestro Michael Morgan and I spoke about a piece to celebrate the Orchestra’s 50th, a suite from HOC seemed like the perfect idea. It has subsequently been performed in Los Angeles, Krakau Poland, and other cities. The Suite is comprised of of main musical themes from the first season of House Of Cards, ending with the Main Title. I’ve expanded the orchestration for live performance and full symphonic orchestration. The score also calls for an electric bass, which is an important touchstone in the Main Title theme, and many others.

Like it’s British predecessor, (penned by Lord Michael Dobbs), the U.S. adaptation of House Of Cards, is a hybrid story, which layers Shakespearian, Machiavellian intrigue over a backdrop of contemporary politics. There is a sophistication and wit to these characters, played so well by Kevin Spacey & Robin Wright. I strove to give a musical voice to their world in the music; to somehow echo the complex, and dangerous, and sly waters they tread in their quest for power and revenge. At it’s core, House Of Cards is a story of this marriage, a twisted love story of two people seeking power, by whatever means necessary. Beginning with the simple spare piano, the A minor Waltz theme ("I Know What I Have To Do"), is the musical embodiment of this union. Their theme often accompanies scenes at windows - our anti-heroes partake of the forbidden fruit of a cigarette, speaking dialog which seems to contain layers of innuendo and darkness only two protagonists of such cunning and sophistication could muster.

There are brief moments of humanity, compassion, and victory in our story. I credit our creator of the U.S. adaptation Beau Willimon, for bringing that wonderful emotional range to the U.S. version. It is as if Beau’s scripts offer us a glimpse of light to offset the pervading darkness. In the suite, the anthemic “Making History Theme” (heard about 2/3 of the way in), echoes that emotion. It’s inclusion reminds us that our politicians are ultimately of our own making, a projection of of us, and of our collective identity. Though they might often seem to function as reflections of our basest morals and beliefs, they can also inspire our more altruistic and just ideals. Even Frank Underwood is often striving to actually get something productive done in Washington! With questionable methods, he moves an agenda forward with a force and resolve that is likely the envy of many a D.C. beltway insider.




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