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About The Sleeping Beauty

Learn about The Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky

The Sleeping Beauty Overview: 

When it comes to justifying the essence of traditional ballet, ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ makes a sheer impression amidst the greatest dancing symphonies of all time. It is characterized by the charm of scintillating visual beauty, tinged with melody and orchestration. The music was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1888–89. It is the second of his three ballets. It was first performed on January 15, 1890, and was choreographed by the great Marius Petipa, at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg.

More on The Sleeping Beauty: Tchaikovsky’s Entrancing Fairy Tale Rendition

In 1888, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the director of Russia’s Imperial Theatres approached Tchaikovsky to compose the music for this ballet.  After reading the story, he liked it so much that he completed the composition in roughly forty days, even with frequent interruptions from travelling. Tchaikovsky also incorporated musical themes for individual characters, as in the instances of using two beautiful melodies that represented the two fairies: Carabosse's theme and the Lilac Fairy's theme. While the former represents an evil ambience, its counterpart brings a soothing tone. Furthermore, it is the composer’s sheer creativity, that enabled him to blend those aspects in accordance with the corresponding events.

Based on Charles Perrault’s ‘La Belle au Bois Dormant’, this ballet captures the ethos of a captivating fantasy story filled with the elements of magic and poetry. For the stage performance, a well-crafted orchestra was required consisting several musical instruments - two flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons and four horns (in F), two cornets (in A, B-flat), two trumpets (in A, B-flat), three trombones and tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings. Besides these, there was the inclusion of various drums, violins and piano.

The triumph of good over evil is universally cherished. The story behind this ballet is based on this very idea. It comes with first, celebrating Princess Aurora's christening in the Royal Castle. Amidst all sorts of excitements, the king carelessly made a blunder and forgot to welcome the wicked fairy Carabosse. As a result, she got furious and cursed Aurora, declaring that she is going to die on her 16th birthday. To prevent this, the great Lilac Fairy mitigated the number of years to a deep sleep until a prince would find her to release her from such misfortune. A century later, Prince Florimund appears as the messiah and eventually breaks the shackles of her misery. In the wedding, people dance and celebrate, and thus the story ends on a happy note.

In the ballet, there are themes developed and the continuity is perfectly coherent throughout. Each of the three acts includes a gradual movement. The first one, celebrating Princess Aurora's girlhood, the second - her falling in love, and the finally there comes her marriage.

The composer himself was very happy with this project. While orchestrating the ballet, Tchaikovsky found the subject so poetic that he got engulfed with the magnetism of his composition. The way this fairy tale was represented in the height of classical ballet, epitomized the greatest example of art in its purest form. It showed what the result could be when composers and choreographers work as one soul to produce a masterpiece which can perpetuate its charms throughout the ages.

 

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Piano sheet music of composition from The Sleeping Beauty available at Galaxy Music Notes: