The Seasons (ballet)

The Seasons (ballet)

The Seasons ( _ru. Времена года, "Vremena goda"; also _fr. Les saisons) is an allegorical ballet in one act, four scenes, by the choreographer Marius Petipa, with music by Alexander Glazunov, his Op. 67. The work was composed in 1899, and was first performed by the Imperial Ballet in 1900 in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Composition history

The score for "The Seasons" was originally intended to have been composed by Glazunov's colleague and close friend, the Italian composer and conductor Riccardo Drigo, who for many years held the posts of "Director of music" and "Chef d’orchestre" to the Ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres. Another of Marius Petipa's ballets which was also in the preliminary stages at same time as that of "The Seasons" was Petipa's "Les Millions d’Arlequin" (a.k.a. "Harlequinade"), a work originally intended to have had a score supplied by Glazunov. Since both Drigo and Glazunov each had an affinity towards the other's assigned ballet, the two composers agreed that Glazunov would compose "The Seasons" and that Drigo would compose "Les Millions d’Arlequin".

Petipa's "Les Millions d'Arlequin" was presented for the first time before the royal court at the Imperial Theatre of the Hermitage on OldStyleDate|23 February|1900|10 February. "The Seasons" would premiere three days later.

In 1907 Nikolai Legat staged a revival of "The Seasons" at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre. This production was performed on occasion by the Imperial Ballet after the Russian Revolution, being performed for the last time in 1927.

"The Seasons" lived on in an abriged edition in the repertory of Anna Pavlova's touring company.

Performance history

Source: [ "Энциклопедия Русского Балета (Encyclopedia of Russian Ballet)"]

St. Petersburg Premiere (World Premiere)

*"Date": OldStyleDate|20 February|1900|7 February
*"Place": Imperial Theatre of the Hermitage, Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
*"Balletmaster": Marius Petipa
*"Conductor": Riccardo Drigo
*"Scene Designer": Pyotr Lambin
*"Costume Designer": Yevgeniy Ponomaryov

Other Notable Productions

*1900, February 13, St. Petersburg, Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, same ensemble as the premiere
*1907, St. Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre, balletmaster Nikolay Legat, conducted by Drigo, décor by Lambin, costumes by Aleksandr Golovin.

Original Interpreters

Publication history

*1901, M.P. Belyayev, Leipzig


Tableau 1 — "A winter landscape"

Winter is surrounded by his companions: Hoar-frost, Ice, Hail and Snow, who amuse themselves with a band of snowflakes. Two gnomes enter, and soon light a fire that causes all assembled to vanish.

Tableau 2 — "A landscape covered with flowers"

Spring dances with Zephyr, flower fairies, and enchanted birds. Upon feeling the heat of the sun, the assembly takes flight.

Tableau 3 — "A landscape of flowing fields of wheat"

Cornflowers and poppies revel in the light and warmth of the sun. They take rest after their exertion. Now Naiads appear, who bring water to refresh the growth, and the Spirit of Corn dances in thanksgiving. Satyrs and Fauns enter playing their pipes, and attempt to carry off the Spirit of the Corn, but she is rescued by the wind of Zephyr.

Tableau 4 — "A landscape in Autumn"

The Seasons take part in a glorious dance (the well-known "autumn bacchanale") while leaves from autumn trees rain upon their merriment.

Apotheosis — "The Sable sky"

Constellations of stars sparkle above the earth.


List of the numbers comprising "The Seasons" taken from the "Yearbook of the Imperial Theatres, 1899-1900", being the original titles of the dances and "mise en scène" as originally staged.

*№01 "Prélude"Tableau I — "L’Hiver" (winter)
*№02 "Scène de l’Hiver"
*№03 "Variation dansée du givre" (frost)
*№04 "Variation dansée de la glace" (ice)
*№05 "Variation dansée de la grêle" (hail)
*№06 "Variation dansée de la neige" (snow)
*№07 "Coda de l’Hiver"

Tableau II — "Le Printemps" (spring)
*№08 "Entrée de Printemps, Zéphyre, les Fées des fleurs, les oiseaux et les fleurs"

Tableau III — "L’Été" (summer)
*№09 "Scène de l’Été"
*№10 "Valse des bleuets et des pavots" (Waltz of the Cornflowers and Poppies)
*№11 "La Barcarolle – Entrée des naïades, le satyres et des faunes"
*№12 "Variation dansée de la esprit du maïs"
*№13 "Coda de l’Été"

Tableau IV — "L’Automne" (fall)

*№14 "Grande bacchanale des saisons"—::a. "Entrée des saisons"::b. "L’Hiver"::c. "Le Printemps"::d. "Bacchanale"::e. "L’Été"

*№15 "Petit adage"
*№16 "Variation dansée du Satyre"
*№17 "Grand coda générale"

*№18 "Apothéose: La révélation des étoiles"


*1929, Aleksandr Glazunov, unknown orchestra
*196?, Konstantin Ivanov, USSR Symphony Orchestra
*196?, Robert Irving, Concert Arts Orchestra
*1978, Yevgeniy Svetlanov, Philharmonia Orchestra
*1987, Neeme Järvi, Scottish National Orchestra
*1990, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Uses in popular culture

Excerpts from the ballet were heard on a recording featuring Don Wilson narrating the story of Ceres and Proserpina (here called Prosperine), with the music, played by the Continental Symphony Orchestra, serving as accompaniment. This recording was par of an LP issued by Capitol Records entitled "Classics for Children".

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