May 19, 2009 – 4:14 am

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Appomattox (world premiere) [no label, 2CD]
Featuring the San Francisco Opera

Live at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA, October 5, 2007. Very good radio broadcast.

Einstein On The Beach, Satyagraha, Akhnaten are some of the operas associated with composer Philip Glass. Now add Appomattox, which premiered in 2007.

It was a turning point in American history, and the climax of a powerful personal drama about two proud men. After four years and the loss of 600,000 lives, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to his Union counterpart, General Ulysses S. Grant, in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, bringing the Civil War to an end. The intense emotions of this landmark day and the historic weeks leading up to it are compellingly conveyed by the hypnotic music of Philip Glass in this highly anticipated world premiere. The dazzling creative team includes Academy Award winner Christopher Hampton (librettist), renowned stage director Robert Woodruff (director) and acclaimed champion of new music Dennis Russell Davies (conductor).

A review in said: “There is a moment in Appomattox, the new opera by Philip Glass centered on the end of America’s Civil war, when the stage bursts with life. A regiment of African-American soldiers fills the stage, and they sing a march, the original music by Glass and a pastiche of period tunes such as Battle Hymn of the Republic, to a rousing text from the times. It is the climax of a sequence depicting the taking of Richmond, the Confederate capitol, by Union troops in 1865. In set pieces such as these, the opera soars.”

For Appomattox, Glass said: “This is an opera about men and events. There is hardly a person in public life today with the moral and intellectual stature of these two men, and I wanted to - well, honor them isn’t the right word - but put them on the stage and see what they were about.”

Thanks to mdshrk1 for sharing these tracks on the net.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1 (79:16)
Track 101. Announcer 8:32 (12.3MB)
Track 102. Untitled 11:50 (17.1MB)
Track 103. Untitled 8:48 (12.1MB)
Track 104. Untitled 3:20 (4.8MB)
Track 105. Untitled 7:02 (10.1MB)
Track 106. Untitled 8:42 (11.9MB)
Track 107. Untitled 9:47 (14.1MB)
Track 108. Untitled 8:04 (11.0MB)
Track 109. Untitled 2:19 (3.2MB)
Track 110. Untitled 4:56 (7.1MB)
Track 111. Untitled 5:50 (8.4MB)

Disc 2 (66:48)
Track 201. Announcer/Interview 19:16 (27.8MB)
Track 202. Untitled 5:25 (7.4MB)
Track 203. Untitled 5:26 (7.4MB)
Track 204. Untitled 8:18 (12.0MB)
Track 205. Untitled 6:46 (9.3MB)
Track 206. Untitled 6:40 (9.6MB)
Track 207. Untitled 4:24 (6.4MB)
Track 208. Untitled 6:55 (10.0MB)
Track 209. Untitled 3:33 (5.1MB)

An opera by Philip Glass
Libretto by Christopher Hampton
Music by Philip Glass

Robert E. Lee: Dwayne Croft / Brian Leerhuber (10/24)
Ulysses S. Grant: Andrew Shore
Julia Dent Grant: Rhoslyn Jones
Mary Custis Lee: Elza van den Heever
Mary Todd Lincoln: Heidi Melton
Elizabeth Keckley: Kendall Gladen
T. Morris Chester: Noah Stewart
Abraham Lincoln: Jeremy Galyon
Brig. Gen. Edward Alexander: Chad Shelton
Julia Agnes Lee: Ji Young Yang
Edgar Ray Killen: Philip Skinner

Click here to order Philip Glass albums.

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Prologue: April, 1865

The brutal American Civil War is drawing to a close. Three scenes unfold simultaneously as Julia (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant), Mary Custis (Mrs. Robert E. Lee) with her daughter Agnes, and Mary Todd Lincoln with her seamstress Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, separately express their anxieties, then jointly voice their foreboding about the suffering that is imminent.

Act 1: April 2–9, 1865

Scene 1 - Aboard his floating headquarters on the Potomac, President Lincoln meets with Grant and enunciates his River Queen Doctrine, outlining the generous terms of surrender to be offered to Lee. Their wives arrive, Mrs. Lincoln voicing petty grievances, while Mrs. Grant is steadfast and calm. Hearing of the success of the day’s battle, Grant orders the final assault on Richmond.

Scene 2 - Mrs. Lee rejects her husband’s advice to flee Richmond before the coming battle. Lee reflects on his reason for joining the Confederacy despite having been offered the leadership of the Union forces: his invincible loyalty to his home state of Virginia. General Cobb arrives to protest the proposal, favored by Lee, of arming slaves to fight for the Confederacy. If slaves can make good soldiers, he argues, where does that leave their theory of slavery? Lee responds that his business is war, not theorizing.

Scene 3 - On the eve of the Union’s attack on Richmond, Julia Grant reflects on the hard years of her husband’s earlier life, including his business failures and alcoholism, but she recalls her mother’s prophecy that he would rise to be the highest in the land. Now she worries about the horrible strain the long, bloody war has put on him. Grant assures her that the seemingly endless killing will soon be over.

Scene 4 - Refugees flee Richmond amid terror and chaos, but Mrs. Lee and Agnes remain in their home. A troop of black union soldiers rejoices in the city’s capture. T. Morris Chester, a black journalist from the Philadelphia Press, writes a triumphant news dispatch while seated in the Speaker’s chair at the Confederate Congress. Greeted in Richmond by a crowd of newly freed black laborers, Lincoln raises one who had dropped to his knees, saying he must kneel only to God, in thanks for his liberty. With her house now under occupation, Mrs. Lee protests to Union General Rawlins that placing a black soldier as a sentry is an insult. Rawlins apologetically replaces the guard with a white man.

Scene 5 - Grant and Lee exchange a series of letters. Grant proposes that Lee surrender to avoid further bloodshed. Lee’s initial response is equivocal, only inquiring as to the terms Grant might propose, and later suggesting they meet to discuss “peace” rather than “surrender.” But when Lee receives news of his encircled army’s failed breakout attempt, he realizes his options are disappearing. An aide proposes a radical change of strategy: guerrilla warfare. Lee rejects the stratagem, saying that the soldiers would have to revert to robbing and plundering just to subsist. With no remaining alternative, Lee writes to Grant and asks for a meeting to discuss surrender. The full, crushing weight of his decision weighs upon him as he accepts the reality of defeat.

Act II: April 9, 1865, and later times

The meeting to negotiate the surrender is being prepared in a house owned by Wilbur McLean in the small town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee arrives impeccably dressed, while Grant appears in a battered, stained uniform. After polite reminiscence about their past acquaintance, Lee finally raises the subject of surrender. Grant proposes the broader terms and proceeds to write them down.

Their discussion is interrupted at times by scenes from both the near and distant future, starkly calling to mind that, although these two generals are conducting themselves with uncommon civility, grace, and humanity, long-established inequalities and injustices will remain for generations to come.

Grant proposes - to Lee’s great relief - that all officers and men be allowed to return to their homes after handing over their arms. Grant then accedes to Lee’s request that all his men, not just the officers, be allowed to keep their horses, so that they can return home to work their farms. The meeting concludes as Lee signs the letter accepting the terms, and the generals shake hands. After Lee bows and leaves, Lee approaches his troops and confirms the surrender; they can go home now, and if they are as good citizens as they were as soldiers, then he will be proud of them.

As the generals depart, soldiers and civilians advance, and the McLean household is systematically ravaged by souvenir hunters. Rapacity and greed - harbingers of the future - violently intrude on the heels of a moment of historic reconciliation.

Julia Grant leads a group of women who lament the tragedy and inevitability of war.


  2. I LOVE Philip Glass!!! Thank you so much for sharing this! Listening on my headphones now and its wonderful.

    By Paul on May 31, 2013

  3. Hey BigO, thanks for this. And the diversity of music on this blog is why I come back and back. Brilliant!

    By bing bongong on Oct 22, 2015

  4. Thank you very much for this post, but can you repost tracks 103, 108, 202 and 205?
    Thanks in advance and best regards

    By Olha on May 22, 2018

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