Evans Stephen: Emuria and the Unicorn

Emuria and the Unicorn is the second full length ballet written by Stephen, and is based on a medieval fantasy he wrote himself. Although composed for his daughter’s ballet school, Emuria and the Unicorn was world premiered in British Columbia, shortly followed by the school in Essex. It is a story embodying the age-old conflict … Read more

Debussy: Clair de Lune

Claude Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France, on 22nd August 1862, the son of china shop owners. Having shown early musical talent, he entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of ten, studying under, amongst others, Cesar Franck. Although, following visits to Bayreuth in the late 1880’s, the music of Wagner was to have … Read more

Dvorak: Slavonic Dances op 46 1 – 4

Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances are a joyous celebration of his simple background and the richness of Czech peasant culture. The Dances were originally composed for piano duet, but he reworked them at the behest of his publisher into orchestral arrangements which are truly breathtaking. Czech folk songs provide the inspiration for these dances, which coincided with … Read more

Bizet: Carmen Suite no 1 and 2 (excerpts)

Bizet’s Carmen is now probably the world’s most popular opera. However, the first performance at the Paris Opera-Comique on 3rd March 1875 was regarded by 19th century France as an abject failure. The Parisian press reported that the story of Carmen was obscene, the music obscure and devoid of colour, unoriginal and undistinguished in melody, … Read more

Sullivan arr Mackerras: Pineapple Poll Suite

The Ballet of Pineapple Poll was created by Cranko in collaboration with Charles Mackerras, who freely arranged tunes by Sullivan for the Savoy Operas. The story was based on Gilbert’s Bab Ballads “The Bumboat Women’s Story”. The ballet was first performed on the 23rd March 1951 at Sadlers Wells. The ballet opens with the sailors … Read more

Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite

This two-act ballet is based on Alexandre Dumas père’s version of a tale by the 18th composer E.T.A. Hoffman, ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’. As a ballet with choreography by M. Petipa it received its first performance at St.Petersburg in 1892, being the third of Tchaikovsky’s great ballet scores. It is Christmas and all … Read more

Fauré: Masques et Bergamasques

The French composer Fauré was born at Pamier in the shadow of the Pyrenees. He came under the influence of Saint-Saens, and as organist held down many important church appointments, including that of St. Suplice and the Madelaine, and as a respected teacher he was appointed Director of the Paris Conservetoire. Faure’s music is fastidious … Read more

Holst: The Planets

Gustav Holst was an early 20th-century British composer. He was born in 1874 to a Swedish father and an English mother, and spent his childhood surrounded by music. From the age of 19, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London. Although he was initially drawn to composition, his works failed to attract … Read more

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2

The music for the ballet Romeo and Juliet was composed in the summer of 1935 for the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. However, when the work went into production, it was deemed too difficult for the dancers to follow. Pragmatically, Prokofiev then arranged his ballet music into two orchestral suites, which were performed in Russia in … Read more

Fauré: Dolly Suite

Born in 1845, Gabriel Urbain Fauré is considered to have been one of the greatest French composers of the 19th century, and is probably best known for his Requiem. He was the only musician in the Fauré family, descending from a line of butchers, smiths and military officers. Gabriel was a solitary and quiet child … Read more