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Danses concertantes is a work for chamber orchestra by "Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1942. A performance lasts about twenty minutes. Although written as an abstract ballet for concert performance, it has been choreographed numerous times.

Contents

History[edit]

The Danses concertantes were commissioned by the "Werner Janssen Orchestra of Los Angeles, and was intended not for the stage but for concert performance. Stravinsky nevertheless cast it in the form of an abstract ballet, composing it in Hollywood beginning in 1941. The score was completed on 13 January 1942, and it was published later that same year by Associate Music Publishers in New York. The composer conducted the first performance, with the Werner Janssen Orchestra, in Los Angeles on 8 February 1942 (White 1979, 410). The French premiere, in February 1945 on the second of an extended series of concerts devoted to Stravinsky's work, was met by vocal protests from a group of students from "Olivier Messiaen's class, including "Serge Nigg, who found Stravinsky's "neoclassicism to be intolerably old-fashioned. Although this action has been interpreted as a championing of "post-war serialism, in fact at this early date it was the exoticism and mysticism of Messiaen's music that fired the young composers' imagination, and not "Schoenberg's "twelve-tone technique (Sprout 2013, 151–57).

Instrumentation[edit]

Stravinsky scored the Danses concertantes for a chamber orchestra consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, two horns, trumpet, trombone, timpani, and a string section specified as six violins, four violas, three cellos, and two contrabasses (White 1979, 410).

Analysis[edit]

The work is divided into five movements:

  1. Marche – Introduction
  2. Pas d'action
  3. Thème varié
  4. Pas de deux
  5. Marche – conclusion

The music is closely related to several of Stravinsky's immediately preceding works. The variations of the third movement, for example, follow a plan of ascending semitones: theme in G, and four variations in A, A, A (again), and B. This is the reverse of the variations in "Jeu de cartes (1937), which are arranged in a chromatic descent. The "concertante style strongly resembles the "Dumbarton Oaks Concerto (1938), and the thematic material generally, but particularly the opening of the second movement, recalls the "Symphony in C of 1939 (White 1979, 411).

Ballet productions[edit]

"George Balanchine choreographed "Danses concertantes for a 1944 production by the "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with sets and costumes by "Eugene Berman. A "second choreography was created by "Kenneth MacMillan in 1955 for the "Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet in London, with scenery and costumes by "Nicholas Georgiadis. A third ballet production was created in 1959 for the "San Francisco Ballet, with choreography by "Lew Christensen and designs by "Tony Duquette (White 1979, 412). Since then, numerous other choreographers have set dancers to Stravinsky's cheerful score.

References[edit]

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