‘I wanted this ballet to sound like an expensive Broadway musical of the period’  Carl Davis

Having already won plaudits in 2000 for his evocative score to a TV adaptation of The Great Gatsby, in 2019 Carl Davis returned to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s brilliant fable of excess and tragedy in a new original ballet score for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Choreographed by Jorden Morris, the new show provided Davis ample scope to conjure both the shimmering Jazz Age, and the destructive obsession which forces Gatsby’s world to unravel.

‘I wanted this ballet to sound like an expensive Broadway musical of the period’ explains Davis. ‘A small group of strings but plenty of saxes, pinging brass and holding it together that jazz beat and the throb of the Blues, but I also had a story to tell and characters to delineate. The novel darts about in time, only gradually revealing Gatsby’s story. In choosing selections for concerts and CD, I chose to mix it up and look for a musical logic. I also wanted to pay tribute to the popular dances of the day: sentimental waltzes, the Argentine tango and Paso Doble, Foxtrots and above all, the Charleston but central to the book is the classic love story of Daisy Fay and Jay Gatsby. What starts as a wartime romance in 1917 ends tragically with their reunion five years later.’

Now Davis’ brilliant score has been released on The Carl Davis Collection, with the composer himself conducting the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Listen to the ‘Tango Grande’ here.