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Composing for a ballet
Aram Khachaturian, Armenia’s most important composer, is known around the world for his ballet music. He composed the music for Gayane, a ballet in three acts, that tells the story of a woman in an unhappy marriage who falls in love with another. The ballet premiered in 1942 by the Kirov Ballet, with the “Sabre Dance” being one of its most recognizable tunes.
One year after the ballet premiered, Khachaturian arranged three orchestral suites from his original full-length score, but the movements from the three suites are often compiled into various arrangements. For example, the ESO will perform the Sabre Dance, Dance of the Young Maidens, Lullaby, and Hopak from the Suite from Gayane Nos. 1 and 3. Other than Lullaby, the orchestration of the upbeat dance music is very brilliant and colorful, using percussion, harp, and xylophone. These four dances have a modal European flavor to them, but sound distinctly Armenian.
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