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Mme. Hermine

Adolph Bolm's Apollo

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Thank you, Mme. Hermine, for the Link to that fascinating article. Bolm is certainly one of those figures in ballet history whose name flits in and out of the narrative, but who nevertheless played an important role in a surprising number of cultural developments, especially in the United States.

He introduced Pavlova to the West; he organized (pre-Diaghilev) tours of Russian dancers in Western Europe; he was highly successful principal dancer with Diaghilev, creating a numnber of lead roles that remain in the repertory; he reinvented dance training in the US; he choreographed and staged major ballet events from the Met in NYC to the Hollywood Bowl.

And: he put together a company of dancers, in dance-impoverished US, to create and perform the first ballet version of Stravinsky's Apollon Musagete, commissioned especially for the occasion. In the capital of the nation whose creative culture up to this point typified the values of what H.L. Mencken mocked as the Babbitts and the "booboosie", this alone was something of a miracle. (Unfortunately for Bolm, Stravinsky himself had no interest in the US project, and Balanchine's version for Diaghelev quickly superceded his own effort, which is now forgotten.)

The article Linked above concludes with the following:

Bolm’s contributions are clearly equal to many of the highly regarded figures of 20th century dance, even though his life and works remain in relative obscurity. They are often simply embedded in single chapters or indices of dance history books. Martha Graham, eminent American choreographer, stated in a letter dated Sept. 27, 1962:

“He was a kind of catalytic agent, and had a great dream which far surpassed the traditional in dance. He was fearless in experiment and did not protect himself, and he was ruthless where mediocrity was concerned.” She recalled him “with admiration and love and deep gratitude,” and as “an artist who never received the honor that he earned and should have had.”

Eclipsed or merely awaiting tribute, Adolph Bolm’s spirit for dance and innovation are vitally present in the collection of photographs, articles and notes now available in the Adolph Bolm Collection in the Library’s Music Division.

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Forgive me if this has been done elsewhere, but I found this 2005 Library of Congress article very interesting.

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0502/bolm.html

I would like to add some further information to this article by Cyrus Parker-Jeanette as it contains some errors and misunderstandings.

Adolph Bolm was not born unto an intellectual family per se, his father Otto was first

first violinist and assistant conductor of the Mikailovsky Theatre in St.Petersburg.

Adolph Bolm entered the Imperial Theatre School at the normal age and not after

an audition at 16 years of age. He graduated in 1903 not 1904 and was a pupil of

Platon K. Karsavin(1854-1922) Tamara Karsavina's father.

Although Beaumont first quoted that Bolm organized Pavlova's first tours abroad it is

most unlikely as negotiations between an impresario Edvard Fazer, the Swedish Ambassador and the Imperial Theatre Director Teliakovsky for these tours took place in St.Petersburg following Fazers contact with Pavlova.

The senior male dancer though now less famous than Bolm on the first 1908 tour was Mikhail K. Oboukhov (1879-1914.

As regards the competition with Nijinsky, Bolm never essayed any of the high status roles

his colleague did. From all reports, it would appear that Bolm was an outstanding character dancer of a quality that was superior to any other Diaghilev male dancer.

The reason that Diaghilev did not return to America was not because the danger of crossing the seas during wartime but a morbid fear of the sea.

Bolm being the first choreographer of 'Apollo' is important and fairly unknown, but he also choreographed a version of Stravinsky's "The Firebird " for Ballet theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House premiered on 24th October 1945 with scenery and costumes by Marc Chagall the cast being: Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, John Taras, Diana Adams

Bolm wrote a memoir that was published in 1926.

Most of this information has been freely available for many years, but full credit for the new research must go to Johanna Laakkonen's outstanding research in "Unravelling the Canon" - Edvard Fazer and the Imperial Russian Ballet in Berlin 1908-1910

Licentiate's Thesis, June 2003. University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Institute for Art Research.

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Having seen the designs for the sets and costumes for the Bolm version of "Apollon Musagete", I can only conclude that the choreographer was attempting a sort of revival of the ballet de cour style. Many cherubs, ostrich plumes, and weighty fabric. They are in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT.

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Several years ago I had the opportunity to interview Claire Lauche Porter, who was dancing at the San Francisco Opera when Bolm came there -- she was so enthusiastic about his work and his aesthetic -- even after many years she still had a very vivid kinesthetic memory of dancing in his works, especially a Bach cycle he made there.

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Thanks for those corrections and additions, leonid and Mel.

Leonid, I would give quite a bit to be able to have been able to see that Firebird. What a cast!

Mel, how is it that the sets and costumes ended up in Hartford? What is the nature of the "collection" in which they are found?

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They are the designs for the sets and costumes, and were part of the "Chick" Austin collection, who was an early silent partner to Lincoln Kirstein, and originally had convinced Balanchine to found his American ballet in Hartford. But as Gov. Trumbull said, "Hartford is not Athens", and the American Ballet went away to NYC.

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Forgive me if this has been done elsewhere, but I found this 2005 Library of Congress article very interesting.

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0502/bolm.html

I would like to add some further information to this article by Cyrus Parker-Jeanette as it contains some errors and misunderstandings.

Adolph Bolm was not born unto an intellectual family per se, his father Otto was first

first violinist and assistant conductor of the Mikailovsky Theatre in St.Petersburg.

Adolph Bolm entered the Imperial Theatre School at the normal age and not after

an audition at 16 years of age. He graduated in 1903 not 1904 and was a pupil of

Platon K. Karsavin(1854-1922) Tamara Karsavina's father.

Although Beaumont first quoted that Bolm organized Pavlova's first tours abroad it is

most unlikely as negotiations between an impresario Edvard Fazer, the Swedish Ambassador and the Imperial Theatre Director Teliakovsky for these tours took place in St.Petersburg following Fazers contact with Pavlova.

The senior male dancer though now less famous than Bolm on the first 1908 tour was Mikhail K. Oboukhov (1879-1914.

As regards the competition with Nijinsky, Bolm never essayed any of the high status roles

his colleague did. From all reports, it would appear that Bolm was an outstanding character dancer of a quality that was superior to any other Diaghilev male dancer.

The reason that Diaghilev did not return to America was not because the danger of crossing the seas during wartime but a morbid fear of the sea.

Bolm being the first choreographer of 'Apollo' is important and fairly unknown, but he also choreographed a version of Stravinsky's "The Firebird " for Ballet theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House premiered on 24th October 1945 with scenery and costumes by Marc Chagall the cast being: Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, John Taras, Diana Adams

Bolm wrote a memoir that was published in 1926.

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Forgive me if this has been done elsewhere, but I found this 2005 Library of Congress article very interesting.

http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0502/bolm.html

I would like to add some further information to this article by Cyrus Parker-Jeanette as it contains some errors and misunderstandings.

Adolph Bolm was not born unto an intellectual family per se, his father Otto was first

first violinist and assistant conductor of the Mikailovsky Theatre in St.Petersburg.

Adolph Bolm entered the Imperial Theatre School at the normal age and not after

an audition at 16 years of age. He graduated in 1903 not 1904 and was a pupil of

Platon K. Karsavin(1854-1922) Tamara Karsavina's father.

Although Beaumont first quoted that Bolm organized Pavlova's first tours abroad it is

most unlikely as negotiations between an impresario Edvard Fazer, the Swedish Ambassador and the Imperial Theatre Director Teliakovsky for these tours took place in St.Petersburg following Fazers contact with Pavlova.

The senior male dancer though now less famous than Bolm on the first 1908 tour was Mikhail K. Oboukhov (1879-1914.

As regards the competition with Nijinsky, Bolm never essayed any of the high status roles

his colleague did. From all reports, it would appear that Bolm was an outstanding character dancer of a quality that was superior to any other Diaghilev male dancer.

The reason that Diaghilev did not return to America was not because the danger of crossing the seas during wartime but a morbid fear of the sea.

Bolm being the first choreographer of 'Apollo' is important and fairly unknown, but he also choreographed a version of Stravinsky's "The Firebird " for Ballet theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House premiered on 24th October 1945 with scenery and costumes by Marc Chagall the cast being: Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, John Taras, Diana Adams

Bolm wrote a memoir that was published in 1926.

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