Mischa Santora with Boston Ballet Orchestra
Photo credit: Angela Sterling
With scores by composers from Gershwin to Tchaikovsky, Bellini to Debussy, find out how this music moves the stunning choreography of Rhapsody.
Kathleen Breen Combes and Roddy Doble rehearsing Arrais's ELA, Rhapsody in BluePhoto credit: Brooke Trisolini
Rhapsody in Blue sheet music
Rhapsody is all about emotion—feelings of rapture, ecstasy, an extravagant expression of feeling. Or, it’s a piece of music without too much structure, likely with some improvisation. In all of these ways, the Rhapsody program lives up to its name. LISTEN to the Rhapsody playlist on Spotify as we explore the origin stories and unique collaborations that brought these pieces into being.
Rhapsody in Blue was the first major classical work by George Gershwin, who was known principally for his Broadway scores and contributions to the Great American Songbook. With songs including “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” and “Summertime,” Gershwin knew how to write a memorable tune.
In 1924, Gershwin was invited to compose a concerto for solo piano and jazz band for an experimental classical-jazz concert. He composed the song on a train ride to Boston, later recalling, “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang…I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper…the complete construction of the rhapsody, from beginning to end… I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness.” With its iconic opening clarinet glissando and irresistible energy, it’s no surprise that nearly 100 years later Rhapsody in Blue remains one of the most popular American concert works.
For the world premiere of ELA, Rhapsody in Blue, PAULO ARRAIS balances the universality of this well-known score with the portrayal of a very personal story, inspired by the strength of the women who raised him. Using the thrilling topography of Gershwin’s score, which swings from intimate to bombastic and back again, Arrais propels a single female dancer (accompanied by a corps of men) down a path of discovery and self-actualization to an ultimate assertion of her own power.
GEORGE BALANCHINE fell for the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky the first time he danced The Sleeping Beauty at the tender age of 12. He would go on to create over a dozen ballets on Tchaikovsky’s music, including Serenade, Mozartiana, and the “Diamond” movement of Jewels. For Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic of The New York Times, the pairing elevates both disciplines: “To experience Tchaikovsky through Balanchine’s vision is to hear his music anew. I’d like to send all Tchaikovsky lovers to the ballets Balanchine made to his music…”
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major received its premiere at the New York Philharmonic in 1881. The soloist was Madeleine Schiller, a notable occurrence at a time when women were far from regulars on orchestral stages—in fact, it was 85 years before the first female member joined the orchestra.
Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 began its life as Ballet Imperial, a work that toured South America in 1941 with the American Ballet Caravan. It channeled the style of Marius Petipa and paid homage to the grandeur of Imperial Russia in its elaborate scenery and costumes. When it came time to revive the piece in New York in 1973, Balanchine thought the trappings of the original production seemed outmoded. The streamlining of the production allows the grand, romantic sweep of the concerto and the impressive scale of Balanchine’s choreographic vision to shine.
Misa Kuranaga, Ji Young Chae, Maria Baranova, and Ashley Ellis in Yakobson's Pas de Quatre
Photo Credit: Igor Burlak Photography
Watch the trailer for Rhapsody, a program bursting with rarely-seen works and poignant premieres.
Female power captured to magnificent effect.
Take a peek as Soloist Isaac Akiba and Artist Abigail Merlis bring to life an iconic sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Paulo Arrais’ poignant premiere is like nothing fellow Principal Dancer Kathleen Breen Combes has ever danced before.
Few dancers have been up to the challenge of Leonid Yakobson’s Vestris since he created it for the legendary Baryshnikov, until now….
It’s all about the teamwork in Yakobson’s iconic ballet.
Yakobson biographer Janice Ross illuminates the history of the delicate and beautiful Pas de Quatre.