Tschaikowsky, Peter

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Tschaikowsky, Peter

Sleeping Beauty (Dornröschen), complete ballet Op. 66 (Piano reduction with Russian and French text)

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Tschaikowsky, Peter – Sleeping Beauty (Dornröschen), complete ballet Op. 66 (Piano reduction with Russian and French text)

For more information about the piece read the preface of the full score:

Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky‘s second ballet, is a superb creation in several respects at once. Not only is it the longest of his works altogether, at nearly three hour’s duration, it is also laid out on a grand scale with regard to the number of characters. Nearly fifty solo roles have to be cast, and even if the dancers take multiple roles there remain the huge requirements in stage décor (such as costumes), not to mention the size of the remaining ensemble and the large orchestral apparatus. In his lifetime, moreover, Sleeping Beauty was Tchaikovsky’s most successful ballet. After barely two years the composer could already attend the fiftieth performance in St. Petersburg – in sharp contrast to the reception accorded to Swan Lake! Further, musicians rank Sleeping Beauty among the paragons of musical craftsmanship: it exceeds both Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in its symphonic fabric and is more broadly conceived in its musical expression. It is also more highly sophisticated in its motivic delineation of character and especially striking for its congruence between music and plot, a feature it owes in particular to its gestation (see below). Even the sternly self-critical composer was aware of the high quality of his work and considered Sleeping Beauty one of his finest creations both during the act of composition and in later years.

Thanks to the voluminous correspondence and detailed sketch material we are well-informed of the genesis of Sleeping Beauty. In May 1888 the director of the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhky, told the composer of his aim to create a ballet scenario based on Charles Perrault’s well-known fairy tale La belle au bois dormant. At the same time he asked Tchaikovsky whether he would undertake to produce a score “in the spirit of Lully, Bach, Rameau etc.” A short while later, before Tchaikovsky had replied, the scenario was sent to him via the head of the theater’s school, only to be delayed in delivery. Responding to another inquiry from Vsevolozhky in August, Tchaikovsky expressed keen interest in the subject. But it was only at the end of the month that the scenario finally arrived. From then on he was thrilled at the idea of setting the material to music. Remembering his experiences with Swan Lake, this time he took the precaution of consulting the well-known choreographer Marius Petipa regarding the design of the musical numbers. As a result, between November 1888 and January 1889 he received exhaustive sets of written instructions from Petipa, each documenting the results of three intensive meetings between the two men. …

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