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This Week in Music History: Debussy’s La mer premieres (1905)

Debussy began La mer in August 1903. Buoyed by the success of his opera Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902, the composer decided to embark on a set of “three symphonic sketches” inspired by the sea: his second tripartite work for orchestra, following the Nocturnes of 1899.

Symphonic Ballets, Balletic Symphonies… Tchaikovsky and Dance Music

Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores are all revered today, but they drew mixed—sometimes very negative—reviews when they were first performed. "The melody is too… how can I say it? Too confused, too capricious—in a word, it was not written 'balletically.'” (St Petersburg News, 1877) That was a critic’s verdict after the premiere of—wait for it—Swan Lake.

So you think you know dance?

Which animal is responsible for Nikiya's death in La Bayadère, one of ballet's most tragic moments? Just how long is the typical tutu in the Romantic ballet? Can you recognize what ballet basics like an arabesque or a grand jeté look like on stage? Let's find out!

Five classic Russian operas

Often thought of as a challenging repertoire for both performers and audiences, Russian opera represents a diverse and impressive body of work. From opulent historical dramas to absurd philosophical fairy tales, there's something to please all kinds of opera lovers. Today we're swapping our "toi, toi, toi" for "Ни пуха, ни пера" as we dive right into the rich repertoire with a playlist of our favorite Russian operas...