Peter Tchaikovsky was one of the greatest composers of the Romantic classical period. Born in Russia (1836-1891), he wrote a great number of works including symphonies, operas, ballets, instrumental, and chamber music. His compositions include some of the most popuar concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire, such as the ballets Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker has become one of the most endearing ballets of all time in Western countries. The two-act ballet is an adaptation of the story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It tells of a young German girl, Clara, who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. The Nutcracker provides some of the most beautiful melodies in all music. Very cool!
The Nutcracker Suite consists of the following parts:
3. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies
4. Russian Dance
5. Arabian Dance
6. Chinese Dance
7. Dance of the Mirlitons (Dance of the Reed Flutes)
8. Waltz of the Flowers
Adagio from the Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky's immortal ballet, Swan Lake, was composed in 1875-76. Taken from Russian folk tales and ancient German legend, it tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer named Von Rothbart. Odette retains her human form during the night, but at dawn, turns into the Swan Queen, along with her Swan Maidens. A prince named Siegfried while out hunting sees her and falls in love. The only way for Odette to become truly human again, and break the spell of Von Rothbart, is through true love. The sorcerer, seeing the love between Odette and Siegfried, tricks him into falling in love with his evil daughter, Odile, who looks like Odette (in some versions of the story she is the Black Swan). Odette is heartbroken and, in an emotional scene, jumps to her death. Siegfried realizes his true love for her, and also jumps to his death, thereby destroying the curse and Von Rothbart. In the end, Odette and Siegfried are seen rising into the sky together into eternity.
Swan Lake is a long work in four acts, and presented here are several selections.
The Act 2 Scene gives the beautiful major theme of the ballet.
Siegfried dances and falls in love with Odile (the Black Swan).
ACT 2. It is night, but daybreak approaches. In her human form, Odette, the Swan Queen, dances, followed by dances of the Swan Maidens. Siegfried enters and expresses his love for Odette. The sorcerer, Von Rothbart, sees this and with the power of his curse, causes Odette and her Swan Maidens to turn back into swans. She fights the curse, wishing to stay with Siegfried, but is powerless to resist. Siegfried is left alone and watches as Odette flies away.