Stravinsky's Ballets


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Charles M. Joseph

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Igor Stravinsky, a towering composer of the twentieth century, was closely linked to dance. His early commissions for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes—The Firebird, Petrouchka, and The Rite of Spring—put him on the international map and propelled both ballet and music into the modern age. Even so, these brilliant pieces were but a prelude to Stravinsky's lifelong exploration of dance and dance idioms, as Charles M. Joseph convincingly demonstrates in this penetrating survey of all of the composer's ballet music.

Joseph provides superb analyses of each of Stravinsky's ballet pieces, examining the composer's own drafts, notes, and sketches to discover how he conceived of and developed each work. The book also explores how Stravinsky's unorthodox new music energized colleagues, among them George Balanchine, and attracted a glittering array of artists including Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinski, Picasso, and Jean Cocteau. Joseph creates an intense, intimate portrait of Stravinsky and offers a fresh perspective on the musical revolutionary who changed the definition of music made for dance.

Charles M. Joseph is professor emeritus of music and the former dean and vice president of academic affairs, Skidmore College. He is the author of two previous books published by Yale University Press, Stravinsky and Balanchine, the winner of an ASCAP Award in Biography, and Stravinsky Inside Out. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.

'Using his vast knowledge of manuscripts and other materials that document Stravinsky's interactions with his collaborators, Charles Joseph sets the stage for Stravinsky's Ballets with a stunning narrative that traces the evolutionary process of the most celebrated composer of twentieth-century ballet music.' - Maureen Carr, author of Multiple Masks: Neoclassicism in Stravinsky's Dramatic Works on Greek Subjects

“……this is essentially a study for any listener who responds to the dance element which coursed through Stravinsky’s imagination and which Joseph expounds in brightly illuminating detail.”—John Warrack, Gramophone

“...the clarity and breadth of Joseph’s analysis proficiently affirms the terpsichorean contours of Stravinsky’s achievement.”—Steve Yearley, Times Higher Education

“Stravinsky’s Ballets is undoubtedly an extremely useful summary, and a valuable starting point for any newcomers to the Stravinsky dance literature, encouraging them to read more.”—Stephanie Jordan, Dancing Times

“…a vivid study of Stravinsky’s character and compositions. After years with his subject, Joseph has a bird’s eye command of the material. Seizing important details, rather than getting bogged down in knotty analysis…this is a refreshingly approachable read. And it rightly places Stravinsky’s ballets at the forefront of his output.”—Gavin Plumley, Classical Music

“…engaging and genuinely informative.”—Daniel Jaffe, BBC Music Magazine

"This excellent source offers a unique approach to analysis of ballet, recording its history—as seen through the life and work of Stravinsky—and reflecting the impact of Russian culture on ballet and music of the 20th century. With its 33 pages of endnotes and 4-page bibliography of primary sources, this book is a scholarly delight."—C.T. Bond, Choice
ISBN: 9780300118728
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
320 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
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