Tarantella

Choreography: 

George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Music:

Grand Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 67

Composer:

Louis Moreau Gottschalk/Hershy Kay

Premiere: 

1964

Duration:

6

Minutes

No. Dancers:

2

Photo © Paul Kolnik

The nimble quickness of Tarantella provides a virtuosic showcase. The profusion of steps and the quick changes of direction this brief but explosive pas de deux requires typify the ways in which Balanchine expanded the traditional vocabulary of classical dance.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. During his career he had a considerable reputation as a pianist and composer of virtuoso piano pieces. Sent to Paris to study, he played at Salle Pleyel before his 16th birthday and was praised by Chopin. He was treated as a sensation from the New World at his formal debut in 1849. He toured widely in Europe, playing the piano and conducting orchestras performing his works, before returning to New York and touring the United States. His compositions, using syncopated rhythms, jagged melodic lines and folk dance elements, were precursors of musical developments to occur at the end of the nineteenth century.

Hershy Kay (1919-1981) established himself as a preeminent orchestrator of musicals with Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town in 1944. His works for ballet include Cakewalk, Clowns, Western Symphony, The Concert, Stars and Stripes, Who Cares?, and Union Jack; his works for musical theater include Peter Pan, Once Upon a Mattress, Candide, A Chorus Line, Evita, and Barnum. A composer in his own right, Hershy Kay also reconstructed Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, which later became the Balanchine ballet Tarantella. Mr. Kay’s work also includes a children’s record, Mother Goose.

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