Of course you're right, QUiggin -- If a ballet's music is written to embody a libretto [as nearly ALL of Diaghilev's were], then there's a story in the music it would be foolish not to follow... and Balanchine usually did follow the story when there was one -- best of all in 'Nutcracker.'
There are ballets of atmosphere, like "Les Sylphides," which have characteristic events that develope the mood and unfold unexpected qualities of a "world" where the ordinary mode is wonderful from the get-go, but there is no agon, no crisis, no story and I think Symphony in 3 is rather in this mode, though it's not the same mood.....
Early Soviet choreographers like Goleizovsky developed in this abstract way and made symphonic ballets [rather as composers had made symphonies with dance and aria materials but no story, organizing hte motifs using purely tonal logic. Balanchine saw this in Russia before escaping to DIaghilev. Even APollo, which does have a libretto, has a constructivist look to its highly stylized way of telling the story.
It was not anachronistic for people in 1972 to see the Vietnam war reflected in the ballet; 1972 WAS close to the peak of the Vietnam War, if I remember right. I was in my early 20s at the time, and as I recall it, the harshness with which everyone disagreed about what to DO about Vietnam dominated almost everything.
I don't see any Orientalism in the ballet -- though most commentators at the time do seem to have done so.
"Glass Pieces" & "Symphony in Three Movements"Has anyone commented on how much they are alike?
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