Operetta in two acts and a prologue, op. 17

This opus number was originally assigned to A.M.D.G. (Aug 1939), but was transferred to Paul Bunyan in 1976.

Period of composition: Nov 1939 - April 1941
Revised: 1974-Jan/Feb 1975

See individual movements and 'Discarded numbers' for details of the revisions.

First performance: 5 May 1941 >>
Type of performance: Staged performance
Location: Columbia University, Brander Matthews Hall, New York
Performance details:

Mordecai Bauman Narrator, Milton Warchoff Voice of Paul Bunyan, William Hess Johnny Inkslinger, Helen Marshall Tiny, Charles Cammock Hot Biscuit Slim, Clifford Jackson Sam Sharkey, Eugene Bonham Ben Benny, Bliss Woodward Hel Helson, Ben Carpens Andy Anderson, Lewis Pierce Pete Peterson, Ernest Holcombe Jen Jenson, Walter Graf Cross Crosshaulson, Leonard Stocker John Shears, Henry Bauman Western Union boy, Pauline Kleinhesselink Fido, Harriet Greene Moppet, Augusta Dorn Poppet, Ben Carpens, Eugene Bonham, Adelaide van Wey, Ernest Holcome Quartet of the defeated, Chorus from New York Schola Cantorum, [Orchestra from Columbia University Department of Music]

Milton Smith prod, John W. Love design, Stuart Machlin lighting, Hugh Ross cond

Genre: Stage work
Text: W.H. Auden
Performing forces:

Cast and orchestra

Principals: Narrator bar or ten, Voice of Paul Bunyan spkr, Johnny Inkslinger ten, Tiny sop, Hot Biscuit Slim ten, Sam Sharkey ten, Ben Benny bass, Hel Helson bar, Fido, a dog sop, Moppet, a cat mez, Poppet, a cat mez, Andy Anderson ten, Pet Peterson ten, Jen Jenson bass, Cross Crosshaulson bass, John Shears bar, Western Union boy ten, Quartet of the defeated contr, ten, bar, bass, Four cronies of Hel Helson bar, Heron, Moon, Wind, Beetle, Squirrel spkrs, Three wild geese sop, mez, mez (Prologue only: these roles may be doubled with those of Fido and the two cats)

Chorus of old trees (SATB), Four young trees (SSTT), Lumberjacks, Farmers and Frontier women

Orchestra: 2 fl (II=picc), ob, 2 cl in B flat (II=alto sax), bass cl, bn - 2 hn, 2 tpt in C, 2 trbn, tuba - timp (=perc), perc (trgl, cymb, susp cymb, sd, bd, wb, td, xyl, glock, tamb, gong, vibr, coconut shells) - harp, pf (=cel) - str

Duration: 114'

Prologue & Act I: 66 mins;

Act II: 48 mins


This work was originally performed in 1941, then revised much later for a performance at Snape Maltings in 1976. Prior to that, a concert performance of some extracts was given in June 1974.


  • Prologue
    • 1. Introduction >>

      An additional movement composed for the 1974 revision.

    • 2. Prologue
    • 2a. First ballad interlude
  • Act I, scene 1 (A clearing in the forest)
    • 3. Bunyan's greeting
    • 3a. Call of lumberjacks
    • 4. Lumberjacks' chorus
    • 4a. Bunyan's welcome
    • 5. Quartet of Swedes
    • 6. Western Union boys' song
    • 7. Cooks' duet
    • 8. Animal trio
    • 8a. Bunyan's goodnight (i)
    • 8b. Exit of lumberjacks
    • 9. The blues: quartet of the defeated
    • 10. Bunyan's goodnight (ii)
    • 10a. Second ballad interlude
  • Act I, scene 2 (The camp)
    • 11. Food chorus
    • 12. Chorus accusation
    • 12a. Slim's song >>

      Revised in 1974.

    • 13. Bunyan's return
    • 14. Inkslinger's song
    • 14a. Entrance of chorus
    • 15. Tiny's entrance
    • 15a. Tiny's song >>

      Revised in 1974.

    • 16. Inkslinger's regret
    • 17. Bunyan's goodnight (iii) >>

      An additional movement composed for the 1974 revision.

  • Act II, scene 1 (A clearing in the forest)
    • 18. Bunyan's good morning
    • 18a. Shears' song
    • 18b. Bunyan's warning
    • 19. Farmer's song
    • 19a. Farmer's exit
    • 20. The mocking of Hel Helson >>

      Revised in 1974.

    • 21. Fido's sympathy
    • 22. Cats' creed
    • 23. The fight/love duet/mock funeral march/hymn
    • 24. Third ballad interlude
  • Act II, scene 2 (The Christmas party)
    • 25. The Christmas party
    • 26. Bunyan's farewell
    • 27. Litany

Discarded Movements

  • Overture >>

    Not used for either original or revised versions but had been intended to be played immediately before the prologue. It was composed originally for piano duet, and was orchestrated by Colin Matthews in 1977

  • The love song (Inkslinger) >>

    Originally numbered '15', and placed between Entrance of chorus and Tiny's entrance in Act I, scene 2.

  • Lullaby of dream shadows >>

    Originally numbered '17' and placed between New exit for farmers [later 'Farmer's exit'] and 'Mocking of Hel Helson'.