excerpt from 'Igor Stravinsky: An Autobiography' pp. 143-144 (423 words)

excerpt from 'Igor Stravinsky: An Autobiography' pp. 143-144 (423 words)

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Igor Stravinsky: An Autobiography

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On June 12 I conducted the first production of Apollo Musagetes at the Théatre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. As a stage performance I got more satisfaction from this than from 'Les Noces', which was the latest thing that Diaghileff had had from me. Georges Balanchine, as ballet master, had arranged the dances exactly as I had wished – that is to say, in accordance with the classical school. From that point of view it was a complete success, and it was the first attempt to revive academic dancing in a work actually composed for the purpose. Balanchine, who had already given proof of great proficiency and imagination in his ballet productions, notably in the charming 'Barabau' by Rieti, had designed for the choreography of Apollo groups, movements, and lines of great dignity and plastic elegance as inspired by the beauty of classical forms. As a thorough musician - he had studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire – he had had no difficulty in grasping the smallest details of my music, and his beautiful choreography clearly expressed my meaning. As for the dancers, they were beyond all praise. The graceful Nikitina with her purity of line alternating with the enchanting Danilova in the role of Terpsichore; Tchernichova and Doubrovska, those custodians of the best classical traditions; finally Serge Lifar, then still quite young, conscientious, natural, spontaneous, and full of serious enthusiasm for his art – all these formed an unforgettable company. But my satisfaction was less complete in the matter of costume and ‘décor’, in which I did not see eye to eye with Diaghileff. As I have already said, I had pictured it to myself as danced in short white ballet skirts in a severely conventionalized theatrical landscape devoid of all fantastic embellishment such as would have been out of keeping with my primary conception. But Diaghileff, afraid of the extreme simplicity of my idea, and always on the lookout for something new, wished to enhance the spectacular side, and entrusted scenery and costumes to a provincial painter, little known to the Paris public – André Bauchant, who, in his remote village, indulged in a genre of painting somewhat in the style of the 'dounaier' Rousseau. What he produced was interesting, but, as I had expected, it in no way suited my ideas. / My work was very well received, and its success was greater than I had expected, seeing that the music of “Apollo” lacked those elements which evoked the enthusiasm of the public at a first hearing.

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excerpt from 'Igor Stravinsky: An Autobiography' pp. 143-144 (423 words)


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