Jump to content


Musical Scores for Midsummer Night's Dreams


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Michael

Michael

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 777 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 08:28 AM

Does anyone know who pieced together the various compositions by Mendelsohn for the different versions of Midsummer Night's Dream? Does the Ashton use the same score as the Balanchine? What is the history of this?

#2 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,242 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 08:31 AM

Off the top of my head, I believe the Mendlssohn score for "The Dream" is incidental music originally written for the play. (Shakespeare's plays had both music and dancing in them in olden times.)

The Ashton "Dream" is one act and uses only the Midsummer music. Balanchine tacks on a symphony to make it two acts (loved Clive Barnes comment in today's review on Links). The Ashton was originally done for a Royal Ballet program celebrating Shakespeare's 400th birthday. It was a surprise hit. According to David Vaughan, all the attention had been given to a new Kenneth MacMillan ballet, "Images of Love." (Helpmann's "Hamlet" completed the bill."

Nancy Reynolds noted in "Repertory in Review" that Balanchine had appeared in a Russian production of "Midsummer" (the play) as -- if I'm not misremembering -- a bug and had not only a long acquaintance with, but affection for, it.

#3 Michael

Michael

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 777 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 09:12 AM

Actually, Balanchine tacks several Mendelsohn pieces -- including the march from "The New Melusine" (concert overture in F major) and parts of "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" (concert overture in D major)and other stuff that I can't identify (what's the divertissement, by the way?) -- not only on to the end of the incidental music Mendelsohn wrote for the Shakespeare play, but into the middle of it.

The score for the Balanchine starts and ends and with and generally follows Mendelsohn's music to the Shakespeare, but the other compositions are pieced into it. I wonder about the origin of this -- whether he originated it (either working himself or with his conductors/music directors) or just remembered it from his Maryinski days or something.

#4 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,702 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 10:26 AM

this is from the city ballet's website:
**********
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Music by Felix Mendelssohn
Overture and Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream Op. 21 and 61; Overture to Athalie, Op. 74; Overture to Die Schone Mellusine, Op. 32; Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Op. 60; Symphony No. 9 for Strings (first three movements); Overture to Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde, Op. 89 Opp. 21 and 61

#5 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 10:29 AM

Michael - this information is from "Repertory in Review" - Balanchine looked over a period of two decades for suitable music to join with the overture and incidental music, so it was his own conception. The divertissement is the Mendelssohn string symphony (no. 9), written when Mendelssohn was fourteen.

#6 doug

doug

    Bronze Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 322 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 10:47 AM

Balanchine even made some of the rehearsal piano reductions from the orchestral scores himself, including the Act II divert pas. They are written in his own hand (at least the ones used at PNB). Making piano scores from orchestra scores is not easy, believe me! He made all the musical choices for Midsummer. As we know, one aspect contributing to his genius was his incredible musicality coupled with training as a professional musician - so rare! He could also play ballet scores on the piano for rehearsal.

When ddianne first started at City Ballet, she had to play 18 ballets the first week (!). She was doing an onstage SERENADE rehearsal -- her first time doing SERENADE ever -- and Balanchine said "We'll begin at such-and-such," naming certain dance steps. ddianne had to say she didn't know where that was in the music, so he came over to the piano, pointed to the correct place in the score and said, "Right here, dear."

[ 06-28-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

#7 stan

stan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 47 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 11:40 AM

"The divertissement is the Mendelssohn string symphony (no. 9), written when Mendelssohn was fourteen." --Leigh

I was going to ask how is it that he wrote his ninth symphony at the age of 14, but a quick check of Grove confirms this is correct. Apparently he wrote a dozen or so string sinfonia at an early age. The Scottish Symphony (no. 3), in contrast, was written near the end of his life.

[ 06-28-2001: Message edited by: Stan ]

#8 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,702 posts

Posted 28 June 2001 - 12:06 PM

ruth page once recalled a rehearsal (for which ballet i don't remember right now) for which mr. balanchine acted as rehearsal pianist.

#9 Dale

Dale

    Emeralds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,019 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 07:04 AM

I was reading a first-person history of Les Ballets 1933 and Diana Menuin said Balanchine regularly played the piano during rehearsals.

#10 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,702 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 08:11 AM

miss page might have been talking about the period when she danced for diaghilev in the 1920s.

[ 07-04-2001: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]

#11 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 01:07 PM

Coming back to Michael1's original question, I remember reading or hearing that Robert Irving, a fine conductor and for many years NYCB's Music Director, suggested some of the music to Balanchine, the "String" Symphony No. 9, maybe, but I've been unable to find documentation for this idea. Meanwhile, the broadcast of the PNB video on Bravo over the weekend reveals this early Symphony to have been orchestrated (that's why I use quotation marks) for a larger orchestra than just strings, and maybe - this is speculation on my part now - Irving had something to do with that. Not to take away from Balanchine's considerable abilities, but it seems to have been his practice to rely heavily on those around him.

[ 07-04-2001: Message edited by: Jack Reed ]

#12 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 01:17 PM

Jack, I could be wrong about this, but I think the String Symphony No. 9 is played at NYCB on just strings - it's just that a larger amount of them are used then would be be used in a chamber ensemble. I don't think that takes a reorchestration. . .is ddiane anywhere about? She might be able to comment on the orchestration of this.

#13 doug

doug

    Bronze Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 322 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 03:26 PM

I called up ddianne. The Wedding March segues into the divert, which is the string symphony, unadulterated, although not played complete (Symphony No. 9 in C, first movement and the first and last sections of the second movement - third movement was deleted almost immediately after the premiere). When the court couples come back on, the music segues into the Son and Stranger overture, which is for larger orchestra.

#14 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,500 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 09:56 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Doug.

#15 mussel

mussel

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 460 posts

Posted 04 July 2001 - 10:27 PM

Does anyone know of any CDs that have all the score used in Balanchine's "Midsummer Night's Dream"?


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):