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Scotch Symphony


George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust


Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56


Felix Mendelssohn






No. Dancers:


Photo © Paul Kolnik


This work drew inspiration from New York City Ballet’s first visit to the Edinburgh Festival, where every night on the castle esplanade the Searchlight Tattoo was performed with marching pipers, drummers, and the dancing of reels.

The writings of Sir Walter Scott made the highlands and moors of Scotland a major inspiration for the Romantic movement in the arts. Scotland was the setting for the first great Romantic ballet, La Sylphide (1832), which Balanchine evokes in the adagio second section of Scotch Symphony.

Mendelssohn was inspired to write his Scotch Symphony when he visited Scotland in 1829; the work was dedicated to Queen Victoria. Balanchine found the first movement unsuitable for dancing, and consequently used only the last three.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was a German composer of the Romantic Era. Like Mozart, Mendelssohn was a child prodigy who excelled in every aspect of music; he was one of the finest pianists of his time, as well as an excellent conductor. Mendelssohn was active as a composer, conductor, pianist, teacher, and founder of music festivals. He composed works of all types: symphonies, piano music, lieder, choral music, oratorios, and chamber music.

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