Way Down East

(Griffith, 1920) Composed and compiled by William Frederick Peters and Louis Silvers.

This melodrama was old-fashioned when it was released in 1920, but then as now it captures a nostalgic picture of America’s rural past. Anna, the country girl, compellingly portrayed by Lillian Gish, is seduced, made pregnant and then betrayed by a slimeball villain, who eventually is found out and pays for his dastardly deeds but not before Anna must endure a blizzard and be rescued by the hero who snatches her from an ice floe just before it goes over a waterfall. The music contains a lot of classic American tunes, wonderful ragtime arrangements, American country dances, as well as excerpts from traditional classical symphonic repertory.


Performing forces
11 players (2 violins, cello, bass, clute/piccolo, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, percussion/tympani, piano, synthesizer)
Performing forces
32 players (strings: 5,5,3,3,2; flute/piccolo, oboe, 2 clarinet, basson, 2 trumpets, 2 French horns, trombone, harp, piano, percussion, tympani) and four singers SATB
Rehearsals Two 2 ½ hour rehearsals
One 3 hour 10 minute tech rehearsal
One 3 hour 10 minute dress rehearsal
Performance time 2 ½ hours with an additional 15 minute intermission
Film speed 20 frames per second
Film source Museum of Modern Art, NY
Rights MoMA
artwork:Lidia Bagnoli