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Thread: Composers whose non-ballet music works as ballet music

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    Default Composers whose non-ballet music works as ballet music

    There are some composers who have written countless works that have been choreographed. Stravinsky comes to mind first. In addition to his many ballet scores, the sense of propulsive rhythm that dominates scores like the Symphony in C and the Violin Concerto has led to their being set to dance as well. Contemporary American composer John (Coolidge) Adams has received much the same treatment.

    Can people here think of any other composers like that?

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    A few spring to mind, but really only as hypotheticals, I don't know if choreography for these pieces actually exists. Gershwin, I think, should come as no surprise as a good choice for choreography. His music is often cited for its melodic qualities, but I think his sense of rhythm was also very keen as exemplified by the Cuban Overture and the Piano Concerto.

    Mahler's scherzos, particularly his later, more angular ones, would make for very interesting ballet music. I'd be surprised if most of them hadn't been treated this way already. I know there was a stage work which made use of Mahler's 3rd, although when I think of dance that isn't one of his that immediately springs to mind.

    Scelsi's Khoom for string quartet, percussion, horn and soprano is full of exciting and unusual rhythms, and would be a great score for dance. The characteristic Scelsian drones in some of the "episodes" would also make for an interesting contrast, a very slow type of dance that would offset the frenetic quality of the other parts. The mannered Gagaku style comes to mind as a good jumping off point.
    Last edited by Crudblud; Aug-03-2013 at 22:15.

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    Michael Torke, later commissioned to write pieces for dance, has a lot of scores which were concert music later choreographed.

    John Adams: Lollapalooza, Fearful Symmetry are both choreographed, I believe multiple times.

    Stravinsky: Balanchine turned several concert pieces into ballet, "Jewels" being the violin concerto, I think.

    It seems a certain emotional remove, plus a motorific sense of rhythmic momentuum are what, late 20th and now, the choreographers are going for.

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    Don't forget Jerome Robbins and his Chopin obsession.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Many of Tchaikovsky's works have been choreographed, mainly by George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet and its balletmaster for several years. Some of his works that were used include his Piano Concerto No. 1 (second movement), Piano Concerto No. 2, Symphony Nos. 1 & 3, Serenade for Strings, Suites Nos. 3 & 4, Valse-Scherzo, and various piano works.

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    Senior Member Tristan's Avatar
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    I was impressed with Preljocaj's usage of Mahler symphony music in his version of "Snow White". Passages from the 2nd and 3rd symphonies seemed to work especially well.
    A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

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    Two composers come to mind, each from different eras but with strangely similar music: JS Bach and Philip Glass.

    Both these have many pieces that can be set to dance, beautifully so.

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    Prokofiev - Ivan The Terrible


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    Some of Chopin's pieces where orchestrated into a ballet called Les Sylphides. Trust Glazunov to do it, himself one of the great Russian masters of ballet. Respighi arranged some of Rossini's tunes into a piece called La Boutique Fantasque. Another one like this is Offenbach arranged by Manuel Rosenthal into Gaite Parisienne. The late conductor Sir Charles Mackerras did the same for Arthur Sullivan in Pineapple Poll. Another one is J. Strauss II's tunes arranged by Antal Dorati into Graduation Ball. All of these would be on youtube and are well worth a listen! Its interesting to try and work out which tune is from which opera, operetta, etc.
    Last edited by Sid James; Aug-13-2013 at 09:15.

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    Senior Member Pyotr's Avatar
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    Peter Pan, a new ballet by choreographer Trey McIntyre debut this year. It was performed by the Houston ballet and the PA ballet. Music consisted of 22 pieces by Elgar including the violin solo from the Crown of India Suite, Wand of Youth Suites 1&2, and In The South Overture.
    I did not see it but my sister did and she enjoyed it immensely. Plot was easy to follow, since we are all very familiar with it. I'm not sure if there are any plans for any other company to perform it in the future.
    Last edited by Pyotr; Aug-15-2013 at 06:01.

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    My wife and I saw it with the Philadelphia Ballet and throughly enjoyed it.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Some parts of Holst's Planets Suite seem ballet-like and I'm amused by the vision I have of seven dancers with oversized tennis balls on their heads (especially one which would need to have a concentric ring structure affixed).

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    I would love to see a choreographed dance on Étude op. 39 no. 8 of Rachmaninoff.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izIAEimMSPc

    Why? I think there's so much movement in this music, it gives me the chills and I would love to see a solo ballet dance on this piece. May sound really really stupid, but I think it would work. Something with a lot of expression.

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    Debussy's
    Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

    originally choreographed by Nijinsky


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    Claude Debussy: "6 Épigraphes antique" and "En blanc et noir"

    Edward Clug, choreographer

    This two works together with Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps was performed at the opening of The Music Biennale Zagreb (Croatia).

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