Oksana Maslova and Jack Thomas | Photo by Alexander Iziliaev

La Sylphide

featuring Études

#PBLaSylphide

When a young farmer awakens to the call of a magical forest spirit, his growing infatuation puts his marriage, his happiness, and even his own life at risk. A crowning piece of the Romantic tradition, La Sylphide parts the misty Scottish Highlands with new choreography from Artistic Director Angel Corella. Accompanied by Études, choreographed by Harald Lander, this journey into the forest celebrates the magnificence of dance.   

Choreographers

Harald Lander

Danish dancer and choreographer Harald Lander (1905–71) created more than 30 ballets during his career, including his most enduring work—Études—and was artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet for almost two decades. 

Lander was a true product of the Danish ballet tradition. Lander trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and joined the Royal Danish Ballet in 1923. But while the Royal Danish is committed to preserving the legacy of previous director August Bournonville, Lander was also open to new influences. In a break from tradition, he moved to New York in 1926 to study with choreographer Michel Fokine, best known for his work with the innovative Ballets Russes. 

In 1929, Lander returned to the Royal Danish Ballet and was appointed artistic director in 1931. During his 20-year tenure as director, Lander cultivated a diverse repertory. He restored many of Bournonville’s ballets, including Napoli, La Sylphide, and Flower Festival in Genzano. He restaged several of Fokine’s pieces including Les Sylphides, Petrouchka, and Le spectre de la rose. And he choreographed several ballets of his own. From 1953 to 1963, Lander was ballet master for the Paris Opéra. 

Lander’s most well-known piece is Études, a one-act ballet he created in 1948 that pays homage to classical ballet training. Études begins with dancers at the barre, then quickly transitions into a exhilarating performances that showcase intricate choreography and romantic lyricism. 

 

Angel Corella

Angel Corella is regarded as one of the finest dancers of his generation. His talent, passion, and technique have brought him worldwide acclaim and established him as one of the most recognizable names in dance. Angel was appointed artistic director of Philadelphia Ballet, formerly Pennsylvania Ballet, beginning with our 2014/2015 season.

 

Composers

Herman Severin Løvenskiold

For his own choreographic version of the ballet La Sylphide, August Bournonville commissioned a new score from the nineteen-year-old Baron von Løvenskjold (1815–1870). Some say it was because he did not have enough money to purchase the original 1832 score by Jean Schneitzhoeffer from the Paris Opera. However, French critics evaluated the score as not mastered very well, insufficiently dramatic, with tunes seemingly borrowed from works of other composers. Bournonville himself played the violin and thought music was “the most perfect instrument of imagination”. According to him “Music forms the foundation for ballet, melody and harmony evoke the atmosphere, rhythm defines the type and character of the dance. Music visualizes the meaning of the ballet mime.” Løvenskjold worked very closely with Bournonville. In line with his libretto, he composed the sequence of ballet parts; piano reduction was done for two violins. In the middle of the 19th century dance classes and rehearsals were accompanied by the violin. Bournonville noted: “This way music is composed to accompany the poem and ballet is then created in line with the rhythm and melodies, thereby merging both art forms into one common outcome.” Løvenskjold’s score for La Sylphide has been preserved and represents the oldest original Romantic ballet score. Musical means are applied to express the contrast between the ethereal world of a Sylph and its opposite in folk dances of the Scottish countrymen. Melodramatic sound effects and disharmonies increase the dramatic impact and intensify visual appeal of the stage plot. Løvenskjold composed primarily for the Royal Theatre, published ample piano music and an overture concertante. In cooperation with Bournonville he created ballet The New Penelope, or Spring Festival in Athens (1847). His monumental opera Turandot (1854) was staged just twice.

 

Carl Czerny

Carl Czerny was born in Vienna in 1791, and died there in 1857.  He was a great pianist-pedagogue, the pupil of Beethoven, the teacher of Liszt, and the world’s champion as writer of popular pianoforte studies. Of these he wrote hundreds and they are perhaps the only remaining public relics of a varied production that ran to “Opus 1000.” His individual contribution to the history of music spreads to the specific areas of pianoforte playing and teaching, improvisation, and composition, especially in the areas of concerto, hexameron, and étude.

 

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