Guest IrishKitri

Symphony in C

74 posts in this topic

Thank you, California, don't know why I forgot to consult Nancy Goldberg's essay, which I just read. It is puzzling about Taras' remark about deletions and simplifications., which he continues saying 'is surprising, considering how much better technically dancers have become these days'.

DanielBenton, thank you. Taras mentions in his article that the rights first went to Betty Cage in 1962 who then gave Taras the rights to it in 1992. But aren't all Balanchine Ballets governed by the Trust? I know Suzanne Farrell owns a couple of Balanchine's ballets, can the Trust assert authority over them?

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AlbanyGirl, I don't know the rules of the Trust (but I expect some of the more experienced Ballet Alert contributors know). Probably the individual who receives the rights to the ballet agrees to let the Trust do the licensing for performance, but they can probably put restrictions on it too (e.g., I can't imagine someone at NYCB doing Tzigane, unless she does the coaching for it).

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The rights to the ballet now belong to the School of American Ballet, so I was a little suprised when the Paris Opera Ballet's broadcast of Palais was accompanied by the usual blurb about the Trust signing off on style and technique. If anyone has seen Symphony in C performed recently, do you remember that note being included in the program?

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I have only seen it at NYCB where they would probably not need to include that note.

AlbanyGirl, thanks for posting the videos, for their brief lifespan here. Comparing the two versions is already very interesting. For starters, the POB 4th movement is 50% longer than the NYCB 1973 Berlin filming.

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Oh boy, Symphony in C. What a can of worms. I've quoted some previous posts below. Please keep in mind that almost all of my research is archival and piecemeal. Would you believe that I've never even seen the ballet live?

Then I remembered an essay entitled 'Balanchine's Bizet' by John Taras in Ballet Review, Spring 1998. In it Mr. Taras says this:

'What remains of the original choreography in Paris is anybody's guess. In an unauthorized version staged by Jean Sarelli of the Paris Opera for the Tokyo Ballet, there were several marvelous patterns apparently not remembered by Balanchine. '

POB seems to have faithfully (pedantically?) preserved the choreography. Youtube hosted a 1980s film featuring the company with choreography identical to the recent theater transmission. Going further back in time, Balanchine in Paris presents Ghislaine Thesmar coaching the second movement; this coaching segment features a B&W film of Thesmar and her cavalier (1960s? 70s?) with identical pas de deux choreography from the second movement. Further back, Soviet news features (probably before or near the same time as the first NYCB visit in 1962) showed that sections of the second and fourth movements are identical. The Dutch National Ballet staged Palais in the same year, though it was billed as Symphony in C. Confusingly enough, their Symphony (which was filmed for B&W transmission) featured choreography identical to the POB Palais. Nothing in it suggests Symphony to me at all.

The Balanchine Catalogue does report a 1963 CBS program (Lincoln Center Day) that featured the second and fourth movements of Symphony/Palais. However, as I have not seen this (it's at NYPL, go see it!), I can only speculate that the European and American chains of transmission may have been broken at that point, as excerpts from various biographies seems to suggest that Kent was already performing different choreography than her European counterpart.

My film chain ends there, but I'll speculate that the POB has done a marvelous job in retaining the original choreography. Otherwise, any distortion that occurred in the choreography occurred between 1948 and when people began to film this ballet in the 1960s.

I remember reading somewhere that Taras was given the rights to Symphony in C by GB, and that during Taras' lifetime he determined what changes could and could not be made to it. Someone with a better memory than mine may know more about this.

and also

Taras mentions in his article that the rights first went to Betty Cage in 1962 who then gave Taras the rights to it in 1992. But aren't all Balanchine Ballets governed by the Trust? I know Suzanne Farrell owns a couple of Balanchine's ballets, can the Trust assert authority over them?

also:

The rights to the ballet now belong to the School of American Ballet, so I was a little suprised when the Paris Opera Ballet's broadcast of Palais was accompanied by the usual blurb about the Trust signing off on style and technique. If anyone has seen Symphony in C performed recently, do you remember that note being included in the program?

Betty Cage gave Symphony to Taras, who insisted on companies performing only one version of it. If I recall correctly, the POB actually stopped performing Palais for a number of years (90s?) due to a copyright conflict. In another instance Francia Russell and Kent Stowell had to apply for special permission so that they could stage Russell's version for their retirement from PNB in 2005. I wonder how Mr Taras took Mariinsky's decision to stage what is patently Symphony with jewel-toned costumes in the 1990s.

It's unclear what was given to Taras. I did some research for the board a few years back on the disposition of Balanchine's ballets after his death (My 2009 BA! series of three posts here), and the will named only Symphony. You'll have to see my post for more details about ownership, but von Aroldingen and Barbara Horgan shared all rights to all ballets not named in the will (the will named ~85).

Here's where the weirdness comes in: is Palais a different ballet? Balanchine did name both versions of Valse Fantaisie and Theme and Variations in his will, but Palais was not, so it is possible that von Aroldingen and Horgan own it instead. However, this 2006 NYT article seems to think that Symphony and Palais are one entity (calling it just "Bizet") and belonged to Taras. In any case, he left Symphony to SAB (which originally had received nothing from Balanchine's will), and the SAB seems to have deposited said ballet(s) with the Balanchine Trust (which requires the staging blurb).

Anyway, quoting from my original posts, "Taper notes that '[o]nce [the ballets were deposited in the Trust], the action was irrevocable'".

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It appears the two versions are regarded as a single work. The credits of Palais de Cristal looked like this:

Le Palais de Cristal
1947

Chorégraphie
George Balanchine
© School of American ballet [sic]

Followed by the BT blurb:

Le représentations de "Palais de Cristal" sont données avec l'accord du George Balanchine Trust, conformément aux normes d'exécution relevant du style Balanchine, ainsi que de la technique Balanchine, qui sont établies et fournies par le Balanchine Trust.

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And here's a little video of Teresa Reichlen talking about the work (promo for current season)

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Remember, posting links to full videos here will most certainly lead to the Trust pulling videos and YouTube accounts shutdown.

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Remember, posting links to full videos here will most certainly lead to the Trust pulling videos and YouTube accounts shutdown.

Yes, and to the Trust I repeat my plea: please find a way to release these treasures on DVD (or streaming video) so we can study them. How about a DVD with a recent NYCB performance of Symphony in C and a recent POB performance of Palais. We understand that obtaining releases on old videos is prohibitively expensive, but isn't there a way to do this with current performers and musicians? This ballet requires a large, well-trained company, so there aren't many opportunities to see it in the US, let alone elsewhere.

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I wonder how Mr Taras took Mariinsky's decision to stage what is patently Symphony with jewel-toned costumes in the 1990s.

He was personally involved in that staging. Strangely enough, though he insisted that the POB could not dance Palais, but only Symphony in C in black and white costumes, he apparently had no objections to the Mariinsky's costumes. I remember seeing a Russian TV feature from the premiere, at which he was present and spoke glowingly of the company. He also approved Tatiana Terekhova as repetiteur of the piece, even though she'd never danced it, and a few years later she staged the ballet for the Bolshoi, though they performed it in (rather tinselly) black and white costumes.

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I just sat and started watching both side by side, with less than a second of a difference, watching first a little sequence of the Kent one and then followed by the POB. Well...since the very first accords of the first movements, whole sequences of steps are totally different. If both versions come from Balanchine, he heavily re choreographed it from "Palais" to "Symphony"...

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I wonder how Mr Taras took Mariinsky's decision to stage what is patently Symphony with jewel-toned costumes in the 1990s.

He was personally involved in that staging. Strangely enough, though he insisted that the POB could not dance Palais, but only Symphony in C in black and white costumes, he apparently had no objections to the Mariinsky's costumes. I remember seeing a Russian TV feature from the premiere, at which he was present and spoke glowingly of the company. He also approved Tatiana Terekhova as repetiteur of the piece, even though she'd never danced it, and a few years later she staged the ballet for the Bolshoi, though they performed it in (rather tinselly) black and white costumes.

I found pictures of the Mariinsky's version, the color schemes didn't extend to corps:

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1st movement:Somova & Fadeyev

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2nd movement: Lopatkina & Korsuntsev

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3rd movement: Obraztsova & Shklyarov

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4th movement: Shirinkina & Timofeyev

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This is just great! I hope there will be more posts and I hope to have some time tomorrow night to read the posts more attentively. Lots of good thoughts and contributions! Thank you.

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For what I can tell, Symphony in C takes a different turn than those of other morphed Balanchine ballets: Ballet Imperial-(changes just in costumes), Apollo-(choreo cuts but no choreo changes)-or Valse Fantaisie-(two completely different ballets set to the same music). Symphony in C has indeed various changes from Palais-(both choreographic and costume wise)..., but they are basically the same ballet.

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I been only able to watch the first parts of the posted City Ballet "C" and Paris "Palais" videos, but Palais de Cristal seems so light and open, like a presentation at court, whereas Symphony in C is more like a white scene – lakeside Swan Lake, at least the second movement. Palais seemed laid out in floral patterns, whereas Symphony C is more architectural. There are Maltese cross movements of two couples in Palais that I didn't notice so much in Symphony C. And on the long flight across the stage, the woman's foot penetrates the surface of a circle made of the arms of another couple – ritualized and highly erotic – which doesn't seem to happen in the earlier version. Also the end of the second movement in the later version has a series of tableaus forming and reforming behind the principal couple. You don't know which one will be the final one or if they'll manage to slip in another (as in the long version of Emeralds).

It's as if Palais de Cristal is a remake of a classic French ballet that Balanchine remembers from somewhere, and Symphony in C is a remake of Palais. Also Symphony in C begins to reflect Balanchine's high modernist esthetic of the 1950s.

I've enjoyed them equally well.

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Symphony in C is by Bizet. It is called just that, if you are looking for it. It has no number but was an early work by Bizet.

It's actually Symphony No. 1 in C major.

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Symphony in C is by Bizet. It is called just that, if you are looking for it. It has no number but was an early work by Bizet.

It's actually Symphony No. 1 in C major.
Wow. I never had somebody "correct" me from 10 years ago! Maybe I meant that Bizet didn't number his symphonies the way other composers did.he had a second symphony too and nobody calls it by the number either. It's just called Roma. Or that if you wanted to buy it in a store, you'd just look for "Symphony in C" not by a number (i dont remeber, this was so long ago!) When I played the symphony in an orchestra, the front page from the publisher just said Symphony in C. But, yeah, it's his first symphony. Thanks for reading :)

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Most of you already know this, but it is a good story worth repeating: This symphony was Bizet's graduation exercise at age 17. He self-suppressed it, thinking it sounded too much like his teacher Gounod's Symphony in D Major (there is a resemblance but stylistically it doesn't resemble Gounod very much at all). In the 1930's the manuscript was found in a French (or Swiss?) library and brought to the attention of Stravinsky, who told Balanchine he should get the rights to choreograph it, which eventually happened.

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So much great information here- thank you. I've been taking g what time I can to study the two versions side by side and, upon paying closer attention, and as emilienne, Quiggin and Cristian noted, there are many differences, but it is essentially the same ballet.

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It is interesting how the Balanchine Trust works. Symphony in C appears in the list just with the said title, whereas Ballet Imperial has Piano Concerto # 2 in parenthesis (no the other way around). Valse Fantaisie only lists the 67 version, whereas the NYCB site also aknowledges the 1953 completely different first version with Diana Adams, Melissa Hayden, Tanaquil Le Clercq and Nicholas Magallanes.

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So much great information here- thank you. I've been taking g what time I can to study the two versions side by side and, upon paying closer attention, and as emilienne, Quiggin and Cristian noted, there are many differences, but it is essentially the same ballet.

If I remember correctly Palais Cristal has 2 demis with the soloist for each movement whereas Symphony in C just has the 1 soloist.

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Symphony in C has 2 Demi couples in each movement, too.

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Symphony in C has 2 Demi couples in each movement, too.

The steps are somewhat different, as I remember from viewing last night - I don't have a great memory for remembering lots of details in some ballets and in this particular ballet, there is so much going on. I need to watch every day (no problem biggrin.png )

I been only able to watch the first parts of the posted City Ballet "C" and Paris "Palais" videos, but Palais de Cristal seems so light and open, like a presentation at court, whereas Symphony in C is more like a white scene lakeside Swan Lake, at least the second movement. Palais seemed laid out in floral patterns, whereas Symphony C is more architectural. There are Maltese cross movements of two couples in Palais that I didn't notice so much in Symphony C. And on the long flight across the stage, the woman's foot penetrates the surface of a circle made of the arms of another couple ritualized and highly erotic which doesn't seem to happen in the earlier version. Also the end of the second movement in the later version has a series of tableaus forming and reforming behind the principal couple. You don't know which one will be the final one or if they'll manage to slip in another (as in the long version of Emeralds).

It's as if Palais de Cristal is a remake of a classic French ballet that Balanchine remembers from somewhere, and Symphony in C is a remake of Palais. Also Symphony in C begins to reflect Balanchine's high modernist esthetic of the 1950s.

I've enjoyed them equally well.

Interesting observations, Quiggin, and I think you've hit on something essential about the two versions, the differences in tone (?). Although the performances themselves do contribute to the differences, as well. In the Palais, the feeling is very light and quite joyful. In Symphony, the dancers seem to have more gravitas. I like your comment about the architectural quality of Symphony in C, too. I'm having difficulty articulating what I am feeling about these two performances, but the fun is in the journey flowers.gif

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It is interesting how the Balanchine Trust works. Symphony in C appears in the list just with the said title, whereas Ballet Imperial has Piano Concerto # 2 in parenthesis (no the other way around). Valse Fantaisie only lists the 67 version, whereas the NYCB site also aknowledges the 1953 completely different first version with Diana Adams, Melissa Hayden, Tanaquil Le Clercq and Nicholas Magallanes.

True, because they consider Symphony in C it the same ballet. But there are real differences, nonetheless. And here's something else to think about. It seems we mostly agree that, despite the differences in scenery, costumes and steps, they are the same ballet, being devil's advocate now, are they? As they ballet is performed today by NYCB, it really does feel different than the POB Palais. I do love the POB, by the way tiphat.gif - lots of nice Balanchine steps and structure.

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