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The Sergeyev Collection


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40 replies to this topic

#16 rg

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 07:39 AM

harvard th. coll. must have a web site and/or email address to ask about procedures. i doubt v. much one can just photocopy rare materials, tho' i suppose for a fee one can purchase copies from the coll. which given experiences w/ other libraries tend to pricey.
n. sergeyev staged 'the rajah's dream' for a little tour, if mem. serves of england in his day, thus, i assume, the reason that 'shades' is separate from the bayadere folder(s).
previous to that british 'run' - about which jane pritchard may or may not have published an article in THE DANCING TIMES - the only record i can find of a 'bayadere' in the 'west' before the 1960s, is that produced, in a much reduced version, for a gala performance in paris in the mid-1920s(?) w/ spesivtseva and peretti. (there's a miscaptioned photo in a russian-language paperback of nina tikhanova's memoirs.)
if mem. serves again, the reduced-paris version of the shades scene came from plans made and then scrapped by pavlova's co. to stage the scene, which after sergeyev did his work for anna p, was deemed by herself as looking too 'old fashioned' or some such, to be put on, thus the project went nowhere further.

#17 doug

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 08:54 AM

Thank you, Ms. Brown, for your graciousness. Part of the difficulty working on Pharaoh was having only the notation pages and repetiteur pages that Lacotte provided. I had perused the entire notation during my visits to Harvard, but did not own a copy of the entire ballet. As far as things not being right in the score, I was always up front with Lacotte about discrepancies between notation and score. For example, the notation might indicate a certain combination is performed 4 times, when the music would only allow for 3 times, etc. This is not uncommon, particularly with N. Sergeev's notations (the notations are not all in his hand, by the way), which are more memory aids than the early examples that appear to be intended as works of art in themselves. Some of his Russian- or French-language rubrics in the notations are followed by a question mark (his own)!

As far as Lacotte not believing, so to speak, that a particular dance could be Petipa, it must be remembered that we view reconstructed Russian classical ballet on the other side of the development of the Vaganova school and that what has been handed down as Petipa often is a combination of Petipa and a series of subsequent changes or sometimes completely 'new' choreography. Seeing choreography closer to what was originally danced, or at least danced during the Imperial era, can be very disappointing to some hoping for something more bravura in style or closer to what is commonly thought of as Petipa.

In the case of Pharaoh, the dances often seemed very old fashioned (multiple - endless! - arabesque voyagee and emboite steps) compared to steps in Bayadere or Beauty or Raymonda. This made we wonder whether the Pharoah choreography changed much between the 1860s and the early 1900s when it was written down. The steps simply did not jive with Lacotte's nouveau classical style that he was employing to create his own dances for Pharaoh.

Re: the Harvard collection. It is housed in only 31 boxes and a detailed finding aid explains where each item can be found. The ballets are indeed cataloged by composer. The notations are stored in a number of large file folders within the boxes, so it is possible that the library representative looked only at the first Pharaoh folder before realizing the notation comprised a number of folders. Most decrepancies in the cataloging have been ironed out over the years and handwritten notes on the finding aid offer explanation. Mona Inglesby did an excellent job of identifying what is what in the collection either before she sold it to Harvard or in preparing to send it to the library.

The Pharaoh river variations are actually notated in the main body of the Pharoah notation. The items that rg lists as 'small balletic pieces' include a notated variation identified both as from La Source and from the rivers section of Pharaoh. I have a copy of this document but did not use it in my reconstruction because upon looking at it I didn't think it was from Pharaoh because it didn't match what is in the main body of the notation.

Most items are actually very well identified in either Russian, English or French. The 'small balletic pieces' folder, particularly the one mentioned above, is a mish-mash or catch-all of extra bits which makes it hard to determine in some cases what is included.

The International Ballet archives are stored separately.

For the record: I believe enough is notated of Pharaoh to allow for a reconstruction of at least the principal dances and much of the action of the ballet, and this is typical of most of the ballets notated in the collection. :)

Cheers,

#18 richard53dog

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 11:07 AM

For the record:  I believe enough is notated of Pharaoh to allow for a reconstruction of at least the principal dances and much of the action of the ballet, and this is typical of most of the ballets notated in the collection.  :)

Cheers,

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Doug,

Thanks so much. I know I for one am finding this thread really fascinating.


Richard

#19 leonid17

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 01:59 PM

There are several points that should be made regarding the Sepanov notations of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's ballet repertoire. Firstly the notations were not made by Sergeyev. Secondly Sergeyev stole them from the Maryinsky Theatre. Thirdly their is no reason to believe they would not have survived the Soviet Period in Russia(witness the survival of a large numbers of costumes and other ballet material from the 19th century still in St.Petersburg). Fourthand last Sergeyev had great difficulty in deciphering the notation when working with Diaghilev's company and the Sadlers Wells, hence I suggest the reason why changes and interpolations were made. Sergeyev was generally considered to be a bad egg and thus his theft is not surprising and calls into question successive ownership of the scores.

#20 doug

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 03:19 PM

My immediate response is to state that the written and stylistic evidence within the contents of the Sergeev Collection virtually confirms that many of the notations in the collection are in the hand of Nikolai Sergeev. Some examples are signed and dated by him. But Sergeev was not the only notator to contribute. Some of the notations pre-date Sergeev's involvement with Stepanov notation, Sergeev worked with assistants who were also notators, and other items are in the hands of students and represent written classwork from the era when Stepanov notation was taught to the students of the Imperial Ballet School.

Sergeev also appears to have had a "neat" hand and - for lack of a better term - a "messy" or "less careful" hand. The "neat" notations offer greater detail than the "messy." Whether the difference between the two was due to time constraints, greater or lesser familiarity with a particular work, or a decline of interest in the notation system over time, I cannot answer.

I will certainly grant that Sergeev does not give the impression of being the most musical of notators. Many a waltz in the collection is notated in 2/4 time. But while these problems may cause confusion in reconstructing a dance from notation, they usually are not insurmountable.

I would finally like to state that I do not wish to defend the reputation of Nikolai Sergeev because I feel that is beside the larger point: Whether he be characterized as a criminal, musical illiterate or balletic incompetent, the fact appears to remain that Sergeev contributed a great deal to the cache of ballets notated in the Stepanov method, whether we like that truth or not. And whether malice was intended in any of his other actions, his efforts and the efforts of others notating the repertory of the Imperial Ballet appear - upon study and comparison with contemporary and modern sources - to have been sincere.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:04 PM

Further, the matter of whether a given object was stolen or not is a matter for courts with appropriate jurisdiction to decide. Allegations of crime are immaterial without law to support them.

#22 leonid17

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 11:52 AM

Further, the matter of whether a given object was stolen or not is a matter for courts with appropriate jurisdiction to decide.  Allegations of crime are immaterial without law to support them.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


There can be no evidence to show that Sergeyev had right of ownership to the notations and there is every bit of evidence to show that the Imperial Theatres and its succeeding owners did. The notations are after all entitled to be included in any catalogue of Russian national treasures. Given the odd tone of Mel Johnson's "snapback", I am sorry if I offend American sensibilities about museum collected articles with a dubious ownership history.

#23 carbro

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:08 PM

With passionately held opinions on both sides of this matter, I think we will just have to agree to disagree. Insisting that the notations are either the rightful property of Russian institutions or of Harvard do nothing but produce a lot of repeated arguments. Both sides are represented here with clarity.

Thanks for your cooperation, everyone.

#24 Helene

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:09 PM

I am sorry if I offend American sensibilities about museum collected articles with a dubious ownership history.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Perhaps you offended Mel Johnson's sensibilities, but please do not generalize on this board about entire groups of people based on the response of an individual.

#25 bart

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:39 PM

The issue of ownership of cultural artifacts removed from their country of origin is complex and highly emotional.

The Elgin marbles are just one example; there are countless others, now being litigated or at least argued about all over the globe. Most originate in chaotic times of war, revolution, military occupation and/or mass persecution -- and more artifacts are added to the list all the time (to wit, contents of the Iraq National Museum).

These very important questions are hotly debated within the US as elsewhere. For example, the latest New York Review of Books contains an article by Kwame Anthony Appiah, "Whose Culture Is It?," which takes a position in favor of selective repatriation of artifacts.

#26 FauxPas

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:56 PM

I must mention here that I have read on this site that the violin repetiteur from "Sleeping Beauty" went missing from the archives of the Theatre Museum in St. Petersburg. Therefore, historical documents have disappeared from the Maryinsky archives in Russia.

Harvard will allow scholars to review and study the notations. The theater museum staff in St. Petersburg I have been told is not helpful in sharing scores or documents to foreigners or even the Bolshoi Theater - i.e. the Bolshoi Theater's request for the "Pharoah's Daughter" orchestral score.

However, the notations are less useful without the original scores and the repetiteurs. I think that copies should be given to the archives of the Maryinsky Theater.

#27 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 05:52 PM

Faux Pas, You may think as you like, but you have also cited a critical issue in archival ethics - access. Is it ethical to send an archival resource somewhere, in the absence of statute or case law, where it will have less availability than in the repository in which it now resides? I think not.

But to continue an earlier point to leonid, making allegations here is irrelevant. Prove standing to meddle and tell it to the judge. You are also free to attempt to have legislation passed to enable movement of whatever collection you like to wherever you like. (See Native American Graves Property Repatriation Act) Good luck.

"Adverse possession" is a state in which many museums and libraries find themselves all the time. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff, providing that they have legal standing. Not EVERY Russian has the right to claim ANY Russian property be returned to Russia, but must prove standing to make such a claim, and prove in court that it is wrongfully possessed by an institution anywhere.

#28 bart

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 06:26 PM

I believe that a number of formal repatriation agreements have included detailed commitments as to future public availability. I am thinking of art objects but don't see why it couldn't apply equally to intellectual property. I'm saying that this is possible. Not that it's either desirable or undesirable.

#29 leonid17

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 09:37 PM

I am sorry if I offend American sensibilities about museum collected articles with a dubious ownership history.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Perhaps you offended Mel Johnson's sensibilities, but please do not generalize on this board about entire groups of people based on the response of an individual.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I am sorry that you thought my expression meant all Americans it did not and to my re-eading it does not. I am shocked to think it could be thought so. It was particularising not generalising. Was George Bernard Shaw correct? I am grateful for bart's thoughtful contribution.

#30 grace

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 10:07 PM

EDIT: i'm sorry. i wrote this post without noticing the second page of this thread, which i HAVE now read. ..just so you understand why these comments below seem out of sequence...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

what a fascinatingly informative thread!

i'm so glad i looked in, here - just out of idle curiosity.
thanks, ismene brown (& others) for a good story well told.

solor, re:

...and make copies of stuff ...

i sure hope not! and as a notator (benesh), i would imagine this extremely unlikely, even when things ARE old enough to be 'in the public domain'... i imagine you could go in there and study them, but not make copies... but hey! i may be wrong... i wait with interest, for a better-informed response.

Edited by grace, 25 January 2006 - 10:17 PM.



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