Episode 108: Chopin at the Ballet

Prelude in C Major, Op. 28, No. 1; Prelude in A minor, Op. 28, No. 2; Prelude in D Major, Op. 28, No. 5

ballet Isadora DuncanAccording to Chopin Project pianist Arthur Greene, there was a dance party almost every night in Chopin’s Warsaw. “The star of these events was usually Chopin. He was both a great dancer … and he played for the other dancers. He would improvise … and if he really liked [what he came up with], he’d go home and write it down.”

A century later, Chopin became the perfect partner for the emancipated Ms. Isadora Duncan. He: “the boldest, proudest poet soul of his time,” according to Robert Schumann. She: “adventurer, revolutionary and ardent defender of the poetic spirit.” A match made in heaven. Daringly clad in free-flowing gowns, bare feet and loose hair, Duncan twirled to Chopin’s twenty-four wildly fluctuating Preludes, virtually inventing modern dance.

More traditional ballet practitioners have also long bellied up to the Chopin barre. Mikhail Folkine, aiming for “the high-noon of Romanticism,” began choreographing Chopin in 1907. His plotless ballet suite Chopiniana soon unfurled in a moonlit park on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater. Soon after, Sergei Dhiagilev presented the ballet in Paris. Same music, new title: Les Sylphides.

The Choprancing goes on. Look on YouTube and you’ll find slow motion flamenco , toddler free style, poser animation, and even Woody Allen with Goldie Hawn…all dancing to the dandy from Warsaw. - Benjamin K. Roe

Radio Chopin Episode 108: Chopin at the Ballet



Prelude in C Major, Op. 28, No. 1



Prelude in A minor, Op. 28, No. 2



Prelude in D Major, Op. 28, No. 5




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