Houston Symphony Broadcasts

Russian Ballets

Presenting orchestral suites from three ballet works by Russia’s most famous composers.

Photograph from the first performance of The Nutcracker in 1892.
Photograph from the first performance of The Nutcracker in 1892 at Mariinsky Theater.

On the next Houston Symphony Broadcast, former Music Director Hans Graf leads a program of ballet music by some of the most important Russian composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century!

The concert begins with the Divertimento from Le baiser de la fée (The Fairy’s Kiss) by Igor Stravinsky. Fittingly, the work was written as an homage to Pyotr Tchaikovsky, a composer who is incredibly well-known for his ballet music. The plot of the ballet is from the Hans Christian Andersen short story Isjomfruen (The Ice-Maiden). It might be important to note that this is not the same as his other popular story Snedronningen (The Snow Queen)!

The next piece is a story that just about everyone probably knows: Cinderella. This early 40s ballet by Sergei Prokofiev really embraces the fantastic, fairy tale quality of the story with a lush, eccentric, shimmering score. The work hits all of the big points of the story, from Cinderella’s awful stepmother and stepsisters, the fairy godmother’s transformative spell, the dance with the prince, and of course the fitting of the glass slipper.

Finally, the king of ballet himself, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, closes off the program. The Nutcracker could arguably be the most famous ballet of all time. Even though it tends to be a seasonal event for winter, the melodies from this work are probably recognizable to most people, even ones who don’t regularly listen to classical music. With the shimmering celesta in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,” to the rousing “Trepak” dance, this is among the most well-known pieces in the classical music repertoire.

Tune in for this concert Sunday (3/26) on News 88.7 or Wednesday (3/29) on Houston Public Media Classical at 8 PM.

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