Stevenson, Adlai E. Lincoln Portrait Script, circa 1964 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of a typed script used by Adlai E. Stevenson for his narration of Lincoln Portrait, an orchestral piece written by Aaron Copland.
Adlai E. Stevenson II (1900-1965) was an Illinois lawyer and politician who served in various state and federal government positions, including governor of Illinois from 1949-1953. Stevenson ran for president of the United States in 1952 and 1956, losing both elections to Dwight D. Eisenhower. At the time of his narrations for Lincoln Script, Stevenson was Ambassador to the United Nations (1961-1965).
Lincoln Portrait was composed by Aaron Copland at the suggestion of conductor André Kostelanetz, who wanted to create musical "portraits" of famous American leaders to garner a sense of patriotism during World War II. (The others were Portrait of Mark Twain composed by Jerome Kern and Fiorello LaGuardia and Dorothy Thompson both composed by Virgil Thomson.) Lincoln Portrait premiered May 14, 1942, with a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kostelanetz. It has since been performed by symphonies and philharmonics throughout the United States and in Venezuela. Each performance was accompanied by a delivery of excerpts from Abraham Lincoln speeches that evoked parallels between Civil War sensibilities against oppression to similar feelings about the rise of fascism during World War II. Narrators were unique to each performance, and included actors, singers, poets, politicians, activists, athletes, and astronauts. Adlai E. Stevenson narrated several performances of Lincoln Portrait, including with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy, in September 1962; [New York Philharmonic?], at Lewisohn Stadium, New York City, on July 16, 1964; and the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Howard Mitchell, at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day, 1965.
This collection contains one typed four-page script for the narrated portion of a performance of Lincoln Portrait, composed by Aaron Copland in 1942 months after the United States entered World War II. The narration is comprised of Abraham Lincoln quotes that evoke a sense of society in wartime and the battle over freedom from oppression and, at the time of Portrait’s inception, fascism. Because each performance has a different narrator, the overall feel of the piece is dependent upon the unique delivery of the narrator. This copy is presumed to be the personal copy of Adlai E. Stevenson, who narrated Lincoln Portrait on several occasions. On this script, specific words and phrases are underlined to stress narration. Also typed are delivery notes for how to recite lines, for example, whether slowly, dramatically, or softly.
The Library purchased this collection in 1992. It was previously cataloged as 973.7L63 GSt48s and was described as a manuscript collection in October 2022.