Swan Lake 2008 prodution at the Royal Swedish Opera
We love the spectacle and the sets, we adore the costumes, we thrill to the brilliance and beauty of the choreography and the performers, and above all we are moved and exalted by the music. But while dance is as old as we are, ballet is a much more recent evolution. By tracing ballet’s rapid journey from French courtly dance to an internationally beloved artform, we find its path travels directly through the magnificent scores of composers like Debussy, Stravinsky, Copland, and of course, Tchaikovsky.
In this 2-session introduction to the vast topic of ballet music, popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin uses her unique live piano demonstrations and both historic and contemporary film clips to illustrate how the music from such dance masterpieces as Giselle, Swan Lake, L'Aprilès-midi d'un faune, Petrushka, and Appalachian Spring became a treasured part of our cultural landscape.
British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.
January 12 From the Ballet de la Nuit to Swan Lake
Ballet is a unique experience in performance art, but what really takes it to its greatest heights is the musical score. It’s a bald but undeniable fact that the finest ballets are driven by the finest music. But finding composers who understood how to write for dance wasn’t always easy. Franklin illuminates ballet’s origins in the French court of the Sun King, and celebrates its first great scores by Adolphe Adam, Léo Delibes, and Tchaikovsky. Ballets included: Giselle, Coppélia, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker.
January 26 Modern Ballet Masters from Paris to the US
He didn’t dance, choreograph, or compose, but nonetheless Russian Serge Diaghilev was a ballet alchemist. With his legendary Ballets Russes he gathered extraordinary talents together from across the artistic universe to create new, epochal ballet events that would shape dance up until the present day. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union and the United States saw some of the finest creations of the 20th century. Franklin explores such scores as Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faune, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and Copland’s Appalachian Spring.