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Adam's Gisellequestion regarding Adam


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#1 Caro

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 12:19 PM

Could anybody possibly tell me exactly how long it took Adam to write the score for Giselle? Every source I look at has a differing answer to this question.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 02:00 PM

The popular legend is that he dashed it off in a week. I don't believe that. Adam, unless he was composing for keyboard, composed like Mozart and Sir Arthur Sullivan - in full score, completely arranged. Adam was slightly more credible, saying that he took three weeks to write it, but he signed and dated every section of the score as he wrote it, and he took from April 11, 1841 to June 8, 1841 to finish the job. So, about two months.

#3 Funny Face

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 08:43 PM

I remember researching this a couple of years ago, and what I recall is that he did it a few bars at a time to suit the choreographer, so he would only have been able to write it as fast as the dance itself was being composed.

I checked out balletmet.org which notes that Adam claims to have finished the sketches in 8 days, and the full score in 3 weeks -- and two months was allotted for working on the choreography.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 01:57 AM

As the composing progressed, Adam would have Perrot and Grisi over of an afternoon and would work over the musique parlante in particular, where the mime occurs. Then Coralli would come over and they'd work over the corps work and other principal dancers' material. Then Gautier would drop by and try to enforce his opinion on the material that had already been worked out. For some reason, he wouldn't let go of the idea of one of the Wilis being a bayadére, and the music reflects that in the funny little oboe solo now danced by all the Wilis just before Myrtha's second entrance. Gautier is the source of the "8 days" story, and Adam for the "three weeks", but it is the autograph score which tells the tale. It was a thoroughgoing collaboration, to be sure, and Adam must have been master diplomat as well as master musician in keeping all the various parts of the creative structure happy! :)

#5 Funny Face

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 05:12 AM

And if memory serves correctly, wasn't this the first ballet that had music composed especially for it (as opposed to choreography being set to already existing music)? If this is true, wouldn't that explain some of the complications in keeping everyone happy?

#6 grace

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 01:09 PM

an extraordinary level of detail in the answers, here! congratulations to you two, for knowing so much!!! :)

#7 Funny Face

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 03:23 PM

Lissen, we gotta stay on our toes to even begin to keep up with Major Mel!!!

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 03:57 PM

I think it may have been the first ballet with an entirely original score by a professional composer, as opposed to a dilettante. Even Beethoven's "Creatures of Prometheus" was a hodgepodge of earlier light works, like rondos and contredances, and even then, the final dance, which had been a contredance, ended up in the Eroica symphony. Schneitzhoeffer in his score for Taglioni's La Sylphide quoted Bach, Gluck, and Paganini! The amateur Gyrowetz did compose a completely original score for Nathalie, the same year as the Sylph made her debut, 1832. But Adam was a serious, serious fulltime composer, and his name lent extra cachet to the production.


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