So great to see old footage of Rudolf Nureyev leaps and turns at the end of the blog post!

The Art of Listening

Bakst_Nizhinsky

The 1911–1912 seasons of the Ballets Russes saw the premiers of two of the twentieth century’s greatest scores — Stravinsky’s Petroushka and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. And, while Petroushka was a great success and (for non-musical reasons) the Ravel considerably less so, it was two smaller works that seemed most to capture the public imagination in these seasons.

Le spectre de la rose took as its subject a poem by Théophile Gautier and used music written by Weber (The invitation to the dance) and orchestrated by Berlioz. It was designed as a vehicle for the athleticism of Nijinsky and culminated in a spectacular leap through a window that, apparently, left audiences breathless and queuing up for more.

The second work, L’Après-midi d’un faune was also based on a poem, this time by Stéphane Mallarmé. In 1894 Debussy had composed a brilliant orchestral piece (Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune)…

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