Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)
Rita Streich (1920-1987)
William Boughton (1948)
David Liptak (1949)
Christopher Theofanidis (1967)


Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Christopher Fry (1907-2005)
Abe Burrows (1910-1985)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1892 that the Nutcracker ballet premiered at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.

It was a collaboration among three men: Ivan Alexandrovich Vsevolojsky, the director of Russia's Imperial Theater; choreographer Marius Petipa; and composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Petipa and Tchaikovsky had recently teamed up to produce a ballet adaptation of The Sleeping Beauty, and it had been so successful that Vsevolojsky wanted them to collaborate again.

When The Nutcracker finally opened to the public, on this night in 1892, the initial reviews were not very favorable. One critic wrote: "For dancers there is rather little in it, for art absolutely nothing, and for the artistic fate of our ballet, one more step downward."

But Tchaikovsky's score has become a beloved part of the holiday season, with songs like "Waltz of the Flowers," "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," and "Russian Dance." And The Nutcracker has gone on to become the most often-performed ballet of all time — hundreds of professional and amateur ballet companies in communities around the world are putting it on right now. The famous English ballet critic Richard Buckle opened his 1972 review of the ballet: "Well, we are one more Nutcracker nearer death."

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