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Thread: Favorite music written for ballet

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    Member ZombieBeethoven's Avatar
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    Default Favorite music written for ballet

    A friend has been trying to interest me in ballet performances. For me, however, music is more interesting than dance. I am curious, what musical pieces that were written for ballet are your favorites?

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Prokofiev - Suite - Love for Three Oranges
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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, obviously. Actually, most of Stravinsky's music for ballet: The Firebird, Agon, Petrushka, The Fairy's Kiss. Speaking of the latter, how can we forget Tchaikovsky with his Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty? All the best ballet music is Russian, since the other creator of wonderful music for ballet is Prokofiev through his Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.

    I have very little interest in watching ballet outside of its brief inclusion to operas, but some of the music is very good.
    Last edited by crmoorhead; Jun-13-2012 at 02:38.

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    Senior Member Prodromides's Avatar
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    I'm partial to ballet music written during the 20th century's 2nd half by Scandinavian composers, such as Karl-Birger Blomdahl's SISYPHOS...



    ... and LOVIISA by Eero Hameenniemi:



    Ballets like these are off the beaten path, though. One might first consider exploring less obscure material, such as Bartok's THE WOODEN PRINCE and/or THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN, as well as KHAMMA by Debussy.

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    I quite like Khatchaturian's Gayaneh, which is full of great music (every item is great!). Can't say the same for his Spartacus though, the only bit that makes an impact on me is the Adagio of Spartacus and Phyrigia (but that bit in itself is very good, a classic). The Russians I generally like - eg. Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Stravinsky. Also check out Shostakovich's ballet suites.

    THe Americans did some good ballets, eg. check out Copland's Appalachian Spring, Rodeo and Billy the Kid and Bernstein's Fancy Free. A number of works by John Cage also where used or reworked as ballet music, and I think Barber's Medea's Dance of Vengeance had a run as a ballet.

    As for the French, I'm mixed with them, but Manuel Rosenthal's arrangement of various Offenbach things into a ballet called Gaite Parisienne is a lot of fun. Also, two classics are Ravel's Daphnis et chloe and Debussy's earlier Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun & the late Jeux (along with two other late ballets he did, but they're only in piano form, not orchestrated). Then there's Saint-Saens' The SWan, made famous by Anna Pavlova, but it did not start life as a ballet originally.

    Of the German area, I remember Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus being very good, but ages since I've heard it (indeed, I've got a copy of it waiting for a first listen!).

    The Brits did some good ballets, notably Arthur Bliss - eg. Adam Zero & Checkmate - also Holst (eg. The Perfect Fool) and Walton (a ballet drawn from his Facade song-cycle).

    Some Australian ones are John Antill's Corroboree, Peter Sculthorpe's Rites of Passage and Barry Conyngham's Vast.
    Last edited by Sid James; Jun-13-2012 at 04:10.

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    Yep, I second what everyone has already said. Russian ballet is particularly my favorite, but there are great ballets from many other countries.
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    Member ZombieBeethoven's Avatar
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    I suppose I should mention that Petrushka is my favorite. In the spirit of full disclosure, I suppose that I should admit that there were a few mentioned that I did not realize were originally ballets!

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Tomorrow night im going to see La Creation du Monde by Milhaud, a great favourite of mine.
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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    I quite like Satie's contributions - Parade (which resulted in a Rite-like riot at the premiere), Relache and Mercure. Allowing for the unorthodoxy that Satie was renowned for I can only guess what the actual choreography must have been like. Poulenc is another composer whose two contributions to ballet I like a lot - Les biches and Les animaux modeles.

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    Mine tends to change but it's been Petrouchka for a while now

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    Senior Member MaestroViolinist's Avatar
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    Yes yes! I second what someone said about Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. I think I've heard his Swan Lake way too many times to like it anymore...

    Also, Prokofiev - Love for Three Oranges.
    Last edited by MaestroViolinist; Jun-13-2012 at 23:15.
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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Debussy ~ L'apres midi d'un faun / Jeux / Khamma

    Ravel ~ Daphnis et Chloe

    Prokofiev ~ Scythian suite

    Stravinsky ~ Petrushka / Le Sacre du Printemps / Pulicinella / Apollo / Orpheus / La Baisee de la Fee.

    Copland ~ Appalachian spring (suite, original chamber orchestration, 13 players)

    Poulenc ~ Les Biches / Aubade (piano and 18 instruments)

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Wagner - Ballet from Rienzi

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    Funny how nobody's mentioned Adam's Giselle and Delibes' Coppelia and Sylvia. Maybe it's cos they're so bloody boring, save for a few bits.

    & speaking of ballets for opera, the French did this a lot, they liked any excuse for girls dancing on stage. So Wagner added a ballet bit in Tannhauser for its French production - I think the Venusburg bit - and I think Verdi & other Italians did the same. Gounod wanted to avoid doing it with Faust, but they would not take him seriously until he injected a ballet into the opera. Correct me if I'm wrong, all you opera experts on this forum!

    ...& another Australian one I forgot is by Richard Mills, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, based on the characters drawn by May Gibbs, a famous illustrator of ours in the early 20th century.
    Last edited by Sid James; Jun-14-2012 at 01:45.

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    Satie: Relâche. Weirdest piece of music ever written! Satie was certainly an eccentric character!

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