The music of the Ballet Russes

Course Dates: 25/04/23 - 04/07/23
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Keeley Street
Get to know the music used and commissioned by the Ballet Russes from 1909-1929. This fascinating moment takes us from the 19th century Russian music of Borodin, Rimsky Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, through controversial neo-primitive like the Rite of Spring to the cool neoclassicism of Satie, Milhaud, Poulenc and Stravinsky. Break week: 30 May 2023.
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Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00

Course Code: MD612B

Tue, day, 25 Apr - 04 Jul '23

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

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What is the course about?

The Ballet Russes, initially conceived by impresario Sergei Diaghilev, existed, and to a large extent shaped, a fascinating moment in western art music. It coincided with the end of 19th century romanticism and commissioned the famous neo-primitive works by Stravinsky including the Rite of Spring. The Ballet Russes then created a new type of modernism by commissioning a range of works in a new, cooler style like Satie’s Parade, Stravinsky’s Apollo and Milhaud’s Le train blu. This course looks at the various works in question, some of the most extraordinary works of the early 20th century and explores whether Diaghilev was following musical trends or creating them.

What will we cover?

- the first season: Prince Igor by Borodin plus assorted works from Rimsky Korakov, Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov etc.
- Stravinsky’s neo-primitive, ‘Russian’, trilogy The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring.
- Impressionism: L’après-midi d’un faune by Debussy and Daphnis et Chloé by Ravel.
- Wartime music: Parade by Satie
- Neoclassicism: Pulcinella and Apollo by Stravinsky
- The real world: Le train blu by Milhaud and Jeux by Debussy.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Understand the main works associated with the Ballet Russes.
- Understand the emergence of different kinds of modernism between 1909 and 1929.
- Understand the different definitions of modernism in music and how they manifest in the music of ballet russes.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You do not need any particular skills just an interest in thinking about a wide range of different types of music critically. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. You do not need to read music to take this course (although we will look at music notation for time-to-time). You will be asked to do some reading in class and between sessions.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Sessions will comprise combinations of lecture, discussion, quizzes, guided listening, video and score study. Course materials (handouts, scores, links to online videos) will be shared via google classroom.
You will be encouraged to do extra reading outside class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You may wish to purchase some of the music books or recordings discussed in class, links to these materials will be available online after each session.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.

Edward Henderson

Edward Henderson is a composer and performer from South London. He studied at Cambridge and Trinity Laban, where he won the Director's Prize for Composition. He co-directs composers’ collective Bastard Assignments, which presents shows in London and across Europe. His theatre pieces "Manspangled" and "Hum" have been performed at Second Movement's Rough for Opera night and the Tête à Tête opera festival, and his piano piece "Milk 2" has been performed in Europe and in Sydney. His "Tape Piece" opened the 2015 London Contemporary Music Festival, and his performance piece "Totally" featured at the 2016 Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. Edward teaches at City Lit, Morley College and Trinity Laban, and runs inclusive community choirs for Certitude.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.