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Twentieth-Century Ballet Music

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Twentieth-Century Ballet Music Assignment 1 Assess Diaghilev's achievement in the early years of the Ballets Russes, up to (and including) 1914. You should consider the extent of his importance bearing in mind that he was neither a musician nor a choreographer. Considering the fact that Serge Diaghilev was neither a musician nor a choreographer, it is ironic that the success of the Ballet Russes was a consequence of a man who simply created a collaboration of outstanding artists. The idea that Diaghilev was not talented in these areas perhaps suggests why the company was so triumphant, as he was able to criticise every aspect of the performances. The Ballet Company was founded by Diaghilev in 1909, which "burst upon Paris...with the force of a revelation".1 Throughout the duration of the Ballet Russes, numerous successful performances were exhibited, particularly in the "early years" up to and including 1914. During this period, "Cl�opatre" (1909) and "Daphnis et Chlo�" (1912) are just two of the company's accomplishments, portraying just how victorious the company were. It has been suggested that the success was largely due to the personality of Diaghilev and his ability to bring together artists, namely Tamara Karsavina, who danced with "great beauty and intelligence",2 Nijinsky, Stravinsky and Fokine, to name a few. In more cases than one, it was more of a sexual nature as opposed to a friendly relationship. Diaghilev's homosexuality could play a part of his success, possibly contributing to his feeling for creativity, and in addition, his ability to work well with other artists. ...read more.


He did so by editing a magazine, World of Art, and putting on many exhibitions, however exceeded expectations by taking it further with the Ballet Russes. Western Europe, North and South America were instantly impressed with Diaghilev's work, and were influenced a great deal, however Russia, surprisingly as most of the collaborators and Diaghilev himself was Russian, did not warm to the new ballet company. "He was recognised as one of the wonders of the theatrical world"7 and certainly brought new ideas to both theatre design and costumes, as well as "revolutionising the world of dance.... And producing some of the greatest music of the time"8. In particular, Diaghilev's "early years" were radical and elaborate, moving away from the typical 19th century clich�s. The fact that Diaghilev's ballets were so out of the ordinary again highlights his achievements. One of his greatest achievements was the ballet "The Firebird", first performed in June 1910, and conducted by Gabriel Piern�. Stravinsky composes the music for the ballet, despite him not being Diaghilev's first choice. It was the first ever ballet to have music composed for them especially, and was Stravinsky's first major piece in the collaboration of Diaghilev and Stravinsky. The Firebird is constructed from a Russian folk tale, and is choreographed by Fokine. He creates a liberated style of dance, with energetic and dynamic moves, which is accompanied by a lively and vigorous score. The Firebird is a typical example of how ballet music became equally important as the choreography itself in the twentieth century, as opposed to the nineteenth century, where the choreography was the dominant part of the ballet. ...read more.


The fact that throughout its duration, the Ballet Russes saw many different artists and even ones that had left were easily persuaded to return depicts just how efficient and competent Diaghilev's running of the company had been, including the numerous successful ballets that had been created. The successes of the "Early years" of the Ballet Russes were overall due to its dynamic impact on the general public. Not only were they a representation of the Russian Arts to Western Europe, however they were revolutionised with modern ideas, which resulted in a huge influence on modern music. In comparison to 19th century, Diaghilev had had a big impact by collaborating with some worldwide famous artists. The impact Diaghilev had on the company is established more at his death. Diaghilev's death in 1929 saw the collapse of the company, despite the company continuing for a few years after, the vision and direction in the company was no longer present, and the company fell apart. It is evident; therefore that Diaghilev's biggest achievement was the construction of the Ballet Russes, in addition to many of the performances created, despite being neither a choreographer nor a musician. Diaghilev did have some music ability and an eye for creativity, which drove him towards his passion for artistic direction. In addition to this, his personality was one of royalty and charm, which ultimately helped when collaborating with some of the finest artists, to produce some of the finest music. "His career suggests that, without being primarily creative it is all the same possible to influence even great artists and the path that they take in their creative life. ...read more.

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