Triumph Of The Swan: A Biographical Novel of Composer Richard Wagner and King Ludwig II of Bavaria

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He is well known for a series of one-man shows that have toured internationally and featured subjects such as Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Jesus, and Richard Wagner. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere.

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This engrossing book is the first full-length biography of Walter in English. Born in Berlin, Walter began his long and eventful career in View Product.

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Since first publishing his landmark Biographical Dictionary of Film The Boyfriend These are just a few of These are just a few of the many Broadway shows produced by the legendary Cy Feuer, who, in partnership with the late Ernest H. Martin, brought to life many of America's Life of David. The scenario, initially in two acts, was fashioned from Russian and German folk tales [a] and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov , first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January , at the Mariinsky Theatre in St.

For this revival, Tchaikovsky's score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo. There is no evidence to prove who wrote the original libretto, or where the idea for the plot came from. One theory is that the original choreographer, Julius Reisinger , who was a Bohemian and therefore likely to be familiar with The Stolen Veil , created the story. Another theory is that it was written by Vladimir Petrovich Begichev, director of the Moscow Imperial Theatres at the time, possibly with Vasily Geltser, danseur of the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre a surviving copy of the libretto bears his name.

Since the first published libretto does not correspond with Tchaikovsky's music in many places, one theory is that the first published version was written by a journalist after viewing initial rehearsals new opera and ballet productions were always reported in the newspapers, along with their respective scenarios. Some contemporaries of Tchaikovsky recalled the composer taking great interest in the life story of Bavarian King Ludwig II , whose life had supposedly been marked by the sign of Swan and could have been the prototype of the dreamer Prince Siegfried.

Begichev commissioned the score of Swan Lake from Tchaikovsky in May for rubles. Tchaikovsky worked with only a basic outline from Julius Reisinger of the requirements for each dance. From around the time of the turn of the 19th century until the beginning of the s, scores for ballets were almost always written by composers known as "specialists," who were highly skilled at scoring the light, decorative, melodious, and rhythmically clear music that was at that time in vogue for ballet. Tchaikovsky had a rather negative opinion of the "specialist" ballet music until he studied it in detail, being impressed by the nearly limitless variety of infectious melodies their scores contained.

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I was ashamed, for if I had known of this music then, I would not have written Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky drew on previous compositions for his Swan Lake score. According to two of Tchaikovsky's relatives — his nephew Yuri Lvovich Davydov and his niece Anna Meck-Davydova — the composer had earlier created a little ballet called The Lake of the Swans at their home in He also made use of material from The Voyevoda , an opera he had abandoned in The Grand adage a. Another number which included a theme from The Voyevoda was the Entr'acte of the fourth scene.

By April the score was complete, and rehearsals began. Soon Reisinger began setting certain numbers aside that he dubbed "undanceable.

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Although the two artists were required to collaborate, each seemed to prefer working as independently of the other as possible. Tchaikovsky's excitement with Swan Lake is evident from the speed with which he composed: commissioned in the spring of , the piece was created within one full year. His letters to Sergei Taneyev from August indicate, however, that it was not only his excitement that compelled him to create it so quickly but his wish to finish it as soon as possible, so as to allow him to start on an opera.

Respectively, he created scores of the first three numbers of the ballet, then the orchestration in the fall and winter, and was still struggling with the instrumentation in the spring. By April , the work was complete. Tchaikovsky's mention of a draft suggests the presence of some sort of abstract but no such draft has ever been seen.

Tchaikovsky wrote various letters to friends expressing his longstanding desire to work with this type of music, and his excitement concerning his current stimulating, albeit laborious task. Karpakova may also have danced the part Odile, although it is believed the ballet originally called for two different dancers. It is now common practice for the same ballerina to dance both Odette and Odile.


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The Russian ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya was originally cast as Odette, but was replaced when a governing official in Moscow complained about her, claiming she had accepted jewelry from him, only to then marry a fellow danseur and sell the pieces for cash.

Though there were a few critics who recognised the virtues of the score, most considered it to be far too complicated for ballet. It was labelled, "too noisy, too ' Wagnerian ' and too symphonic. Yet the fact remains and is too often omitted in accounts of this initial production that this staging survived for six years with a total of 41 performances — many more than several other ballets from the repertoire of this theatre.

Petersburg Imperial Theatres—to choreograph a pas de deux to replace the pas de six in the third act for a ballerina to request a supplemental pas or variation was standard practice in 19th century ballet, and often these "custom-made" dances were the legal property of the ballerina they were composed for. Tchaikovsky was angered by this change, stating that whether the ballet was good or bad, he alone should be held responsible for its music.

He agreed to compose a new pas de deux , but soon a problem arose: Sobeshchanskaya wanted to retain Petipa's choreography. Tchaikovsky agreed to compose a pas de deux that would match to such a degree, the ballerina would not even be required to rehearse.

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Sobeshchanskaya was so pleased with Tchaikovsky's new music, she requested he compose an additional variation, which he did. Julius Reisinger's successor as balletmaster was Joseph Peter Hansen. Hansen made considerable efforts to salvage Swan Lake and on 13 January he presented a new production of the ballet for his own benefit performance. This production was far more well-received than the original, though by no means a great success. For this production Hansen arranged a Grand Pas for the ballroom scene which he titled La Cosmopolitana.

Hansen's version of Swan Lake was given only four times, the final performance being on 2 January , and soon the ballet was dropped from the repertory altogether.

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Hansen would go on to become Balletmaster to the Alhambra Theatre in London and on 1 December he presented a one-act ballet titled The Swans , which was inspired by the second scene of Swan Lake. The music was composed by the Alhambra Theatre's chef d'orchestre Georges Jacoby.

The ballet was given during two concerts which were conducted by Tchaikovsky. The composer noted in his diary that he experienced "a moment of absolute happiness" when the ballet was performed. Berger's production was only given eight performances and was even planned for production at the Fantasia Garden in Moscow in , but it never materialised.

During the late s and early s, Petipa and Vsevolozhsky discussed with Tchaikovsky the possibility of reviving Swan Lake.

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However, Tchaikovsky died on 6 November , just when plans to revive Swan Lake were beginning to come to fruition. It remains uncertain whether Tchaikovsky was prepared to revise the music for this revival. Whatever the case, as a result of Tchaikovsky's death, Drigo was forced to revise the score himself, after receiving approval from Tchaikovsky's younger brother, Modest. There are major differences between Drigo's and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake score. Today, it is Riccardo Drigo's revision of Tchaikovsky's score, and not Tchaikovsky's original score of , that most ballet companies use.

In February , two memorial concerts planned by Vsevolozhsky were given in honor of Tchaikovsky. Ivanov's choreography for the memorial concert was unanimously hailed as wonderful. The revival of Swan Lake was planned for Pierina Legnani 's benefit performance in the — season. The death of Tsar Alexander III on 1 November and the ensuing period of official mourning brought all ballet performances and rehearsals to a close for some time, and as a result all efforts could be concentrated on the pre-production of the full revival of Swan Lake.

Ivanov and Petipa collaborated on the production, with Ivanov retaining his dances for the second act while choreographing the fourth, with Petipa staging the first and third acts.


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