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MUSIC FOR BALLET

HE LEFT HIS MARK ON A WHOLE GENERATION OF COMPOSERS.
HIS UNIQUE, UNFORGETTABLE WORKS HAVE TRAVELLED 
TO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD…

Once Jean Vilar staged the play "La Mort de Danton" in 1948 at the second Avignon Festival, Georges Delerue wrote essentially for the theatre, yet never ceased to remain open to all forms of composition in his writing. Apart from theatre, the composer received commissions to write classical music pieces, and also began working in short films and television, composing for various dramas and serials which were aired in the early days of France's national TV channel.

 

In 1953, Accord and Jabadao, proposed by Jean Serry, were Georges Delerue's first ballet creations, and he followed them in 1955 with L’Aboyeur, a project which resulted from his closeness to Boris Vian.

Other ballet-music which came to fruition in the period included Conte Cruel in 1957, which was proposed to him by Philippe Hériat and was based on fantasy-tales written by Villiers de l’Isle-Adam. Despite the sustained plot, the ballet's narrative stance and the confined development of the action in George Skibine's choreography did little to carry the ballet into the hallucinatory fragrances imagined by Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, and the ballet wasn't that well-received by the press.

The music written by Georges Delerue, however, escaped the criticism and made its mark in the music-world of the period.

People had to wait until 1963 before the name Georges Delerue appeared again in ballet, when Danish choreographer Flemming Flindt then a principal dancer at the Paris Opera  invited the composer to collaborate on La Leçon, after Eugène Ionesco; Flindt took charge of the choreography, following the strict classical line of Auguste Bournonville.

 

The ballet's world première took place on Danish television and its great success earned Ionesco the Grand Prix Italia in 1963.

Given at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1964, the ballet was staged again in the Eighties with Rudolf Nureyev in the lead male role. In October 2005, still with Flemming Flindt's choreography, La Leçon became part of the repertoire of the Royal Ballet at London's Covent Garden. The ballet is still performed today throughout the world.

In 1968 Flemming Flindt was appointed Director of the Royal Danish Ballet, and he again contacted Georges Delerue to write the music for his choreography of The Three Musketeers, after the novel by Alexandre Dumas.

This lavish spectacular lasting ninety minutes allowed Delerue a "multi-language" musician in his own words – to express himself in several music styles, including that of the Elizabethans. Delerue would conduct the orchestra himself at the first performance of the piece and also again seventeen years later when, in 1985, Flemming Flindt by now Artistic Director of the Dallas Ballet in Texas added this ballet-epic to his programme.

In 1987, conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus, at the head of the Lille National Orchestra, invited Georges Delerue (a local hero in the region), to conduct at a series of film &

 

classical-music concerts in northern France. For the occasion, Georges Delerue incorporated various excerpts from his ballet-music into a flamboyant Suite Epique lasting thirty-seven minutes, to enthusiastic applause.

 

In March 2012, at a series of tribute-concerts performed in Roubaix by the Lille National Orchestra under Belgian conductor Dirk Brossé, the Suite Epique was performed in a new version, written by the latter and shortened to sixteen minutes, which restored all the original vitality in the work.

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