December 18, 2014

Nutcracker ballet anniversary

Filed under: books — theresaurus @ 11:37 pm

My elderly one-legged Nutcracker Christmas ornament.  When you pull his ass-string his arms and legs move but he’s paralyzed on one side.  There is no holiday tree from which to hang him.  He is the only ornament I have left.  He is alone.


The ballet premiered on December 18, 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater.

From Solomon Volkov’s Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky:

“The son of Eduard Napravnik, musical director of the Maryinsky Theater, reminisced about how Tchaikovsky composed The Nutcracker:  ‘Sometimes at lunch Tchaikovsky would say that he was pleased with his work, other times he would complain that the work wasn’t going well, that he was all ‘written out.’  Once Tchaikovsky said that at first he had been afraid to write music for ballets because of the strict demands of the ballet master, who would firmly set the number of measures for each dance.  But now, Tchaikovsky said, he felt that such ironclad parameters made composing even more interesting for him.’

“Hermann Laroche wrote in a review of Tchaikovsky’s ballet:  ‘Say what you will against children’s fairy tales, you cannot deny that we fell in love with them as children and that they have become part of our psyche.  You cannot deny that fairy tales contain some of the profoundest ideas that concern mankind.  And it is a fact that in our eyes so-called children’s stories are becoming more and more stories for adults, revealing their profound significance.’

“Tchaikovsky wrote to the director of the Imperial Theaters:  ‘The second act of Nutcracker can be produced very effectively — but it requires delicate filigree work.’  Laroche stated:  ‘At the end of Nutcracker the authors have created a colorful ethnographic exhibit (Spanish, Arabian, Chinese dances, the Russian trepak, and the French polka and contredanse).  In order to write these dances, Tchaikovsky did not indulge in musical archaeology, he did not bury himself in a museum or library, he wrote the music he felt like writing.  And, for instance, his Chinese dancers got by without any signs of Chinese music.  The results were delightful.'”


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