Monthly Archives: January 2015

A year of ballet playing cards #43: A csárdás-like Nocturne by Schubert (D4)

Schubert Notturno for piano solo: click to download the free score

Schubert Notturno for piano solo – click to download the file

A csárdás by any other name, almost

I didn’t mean to keep finding csárdáses everywhere, it just seems to have happened. I don’t know if anyone else would call this Schubert Notturno (nocturne) a csárdás, but even if it isn’t, it fills that slot in class where a csárdás can work really well: battements fondus, or one of those slightly ceremonial walky adages. The opening chords sound like the Raymonda principal girl variation, or the Monti Csárdás, which is how I made the connection. That introduction makes the meter indubitably a four of some kind. That lack of ambiguity is quite rare in introductions.

This is a piece that you’ll probably only find a use for once a year, but when you do, it’ll be gorgeous. It has obsessed me all week, the first 16 bars playing on repeat in my head everywhere, like a meditation (I can do without hearing the rest of it, that’s how obsessional I’ve become about it).  I first came across it when Christopher Hampson used it for a pas de deux for Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks. At the time, it never occurred to me to use it for class, probably as I’ve explained before, slow music and me don’t really get on.

The importance of the turnaround – even in a Schubert notturno

It has a lot of things that are hard to find: restful yet with a forward drive, grandeur without being bombastic, dramatic but relatively simple and concise, and – this is the really big one – it has a lot of action at the end of the bar. Now, they teach you in music classes that 4/4 goes 2 3 4 2 3 4, with a fat accent on the beginning of the bar. What they don’t tell you, is that most of the music that we like has a lot going on at the end, not just the beginning of bars or phrases: think of the “turnaround” at the end of a phrase in a song, the dramatic drum solo announcing  the EastEnders theme, the famous drum fill In the Air Tonight – they all happen at the end of a phrase, anticipating the big tune. Although “1” has an accent, think about the energy you invest in the “8” when you count “5, 6, 7, 8” into an exercise.

One of the problems of finding music for fondus is that you need something that has equal energy in the second half of the bar as in the first, rather than a dead, flaccid sink after the initial accent while you wait for the next bar to come along. This nocturne by Schubert is almost the opposite of that, and hence great for fondu exercises, I think: there’s energy and drive right on what is supposed to be the weakest beat of the bar (supposed to be, but don’t believe everything they tell you in theory classes, unless those theory classes are taken by top-notch theorists – see my Meter & Rhythm Page for some names to look out for).

Cutting options

The theme is beautiful, but it doesn’t resolve conveniently for class. I’ve given several options for ending it. The more dramatic version – using the coda – retains more of Schubert’s composition, but it might be just a bit too dramatic, and in addition, the rhythmic flow changes in a way that might work for some exercises, but not all. Handle with care. In the second part, I’ve put the violin pizzicato chords up an octave to get them out of the way of the tune, and so make it easier to differentiate between tune and accompaniment. I’ve also put in more notes than you might want to play, but I prefer to have them there so you can choose what to play and what to leave out.

A year of ballet playing cards #42: Diable à Quatre male variation – big 2/4 jumpy thing (D3)

Male solo from Diable à quatre piano score: a big two for allegro

The male solo from Diable à quatre: an example of a “big two for allegro”


Click here to download the score of Diable à Quatre male variation  or click the score above. There’s the full solo (pages 1-2) then on page 3, an adaptation for class – it’s not entirely even, and there’s a lot of waffle at the end.

See here for more about my “A year of Ballet Playing Cards”

One of my “ballet problems” is finding a big two for allegro: music for those medium/big allegros in 2/4 like sissonnes (see previous post on the “dreaded 2/4 sissonne“). I suppose the canonical version is the male “Black Swan” variation.  In this post I’ve solved two problems at once – I’ve found a piece of music that does exactly what I want, and  settled something (in part, at least) that’s been nagging at me for over a decade.

The search for Diable à quatre

It’s about 14 years ago that I got a phone call from Dance Books in the middle of a summer afternoon, saying that they’d got Yosvani Ramos in the shop:  he wanted to know if they’d got the music to Diable à Quatre. They didn’t, so they put him on the phone to me.  I was so pleased to be asked, and so wanted to help, but I couldn’t. It’s bugged me ever since, because it ought to be out there somewhere, but it doesn’t seem to be, even though I’ve been checking all the sources I can think of.

So, like the Black Swan solo issue, if you want something done, do it yourself: I set about finding a youtube clip, and transcribed the male solo –  both in deference to Yosvani since he put me onto the idea in the first place, and because it’s the right kind of music.  What’s really good fun about having stuff like this in your repertoire is to play it for class, and see who recognises it.  For me, there’s nothing so gratifying as when someone turns round and says “Oh that’s such and such a piece, isn’t it?” when you’ve played one of your favourite ballet musical shibboleths.

You can see a version of the solo in the clip below – it starts at 8.40 – but it should start there automatically if you click on the video. If you know who the dancer is in the clip, let me know (or put it in the comments on Youtube).

Other examples of the big two for allegro

I’ve found it hard not to mix this up with one of Medora’s solos in Le Corsaire (not one of those that’s in the ENB production, but it’s in the Corsaire piano score  at IMLSP, on page 20, in A flat). It’s in the same kind of tempo and style, but it also has the same way of starting with a dotted rhythm, and finishing up in a scale of triplets:


phrase ending of Medora solo from “Le Corsaire” by Adam – from IMSLP, on page 20

Then that got me thinking that the rhythm of the first line is almost identical to the Polichinelles music in Drigo’s Les Millions d’Arlequin (Harlequinada) on page 80 (No. 11). Put these three solos (Corsaire, Harlequinada and Diable à Quatre) and you can begin to see a model emerging.



Here’s a clip from that section of  Harlequinada performed at the Whitehouse in 1979 (starts at 4:41 if the clip doesn’t start there automatically).

Recordings of Diable à quatre

If you want a recording, hurry: as of today there are only three second-hand ones left at (at £6.96). It was recorded by Richard Bonynge and the LSO, but this album wasn’t included in the Decca 10-CD re-release.

Daniel Levitin on the perils of multitasking


The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin: a book that undermines the myth of multitasking

“Instead of reaping the big rewards that come from sustained, focused effort, we instead reap empty rewards from completing a thousand little sugar-coated tasks.”

That’s a quote from a great article in the Guardian about multitasking by Daniel Levitin, Why the modern world is bad for your brain  (thanks to Vicki for sending me the link).

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you’ll know that multi-tasking is one of my pet hates: it’s a myth. You can’t do it, you can just flit from one thing to another, and do none of them particularly well. See this page for links to all my previous rants about multi-tasking.

The Levitin article is a teaser for his book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, which offers advice, based on an understanding of how your mind works, on how to live better with all this going on, rather than try to pretend that there’s something great about behaving like an overstimulated, distracted 12-year old when you’re an adult. 

I reckon it’s probably one of the uncomfortable truths of the modern world, that no-one who achieves anything wonderful does it without turning their social media, indeed, the whole darn internet off while they do it, but in a world where the high street is dominated by people selling laptops, tablets and smartphones, it would figure that the dominant message out there is that online, networked multitasking is a Good Thing. I’ve been enjoying reading Russell Brand’s Revolution – and in the middle of that, he tells the reader to go and look some fact for themselves: he goes offline to write, so can’t do it himself. That might come as much of a surprise as learning that Jim Carrey doesn’t eat sugar, but it’s true.

Update, May 2019

Four years later, I’ve just read Adam Alter’s Irresistbleabout Internet addiction. There’s some terrifying reading in there, but it’s actually comforting to know that in such a short time, the science has overtaken the popular myth, and you’ll read more about device-related behavioural addictions now than about multitasking. 

A year of ballet playing cards #41: A juicy csárdás – Ünneplö (“Festive”) by Rózsavölgyi (D2)

Click this picture of the csárdás to download the file

Rózsavölgyi’s csárdás “Ünneplö”, rewritten in 4/8 – I like it better this way, but it’s too late now. Click the picture to download the file.

Diamonds: a set of pieces in 4: See the Year of Ballet Playing Cards information page

2_of_diamondsAt the end of the previous post, I said I regretted not transcribing Mark Rózsavölgyi‘s “Festive,” which I discovered right at the last moment, while I was trying to find out who wrote the tune that Liszt borrowed for his Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6. The music has haunted me literally for the whole week since, morning, noon and night, and so I have transcribed it for week 2 of the Year of Ballet Playing Cards. 

I’ve transcribed it because I fell in love with the music at first hearing, but also because it happens to be very useful for all kinds of things in ballet class:  that kind of slow, juicy, stretchy tendu exercise where nothing seems to be quite slow enough; a fondu that has been set on a very slow habañera/tango; an adage.

What to play for a slow, warm-up tendu? Try a csárdás for a change

I default to jazz standards for this, or a slow tango/habañera type,  but always wish I had a few other things in reserve. Those styles will do, but they require some fixing and a lot of control to keep them in the right tempo area, the  styles aren’t to every teacher’s taste. What’s great about this piece is that it’s really slow, but there’s a kind of cat’s cradle of notes between the beats that keep a rhythmic tension going, and keep a sense of beat for both you and the dancers. 

Picture of cat's cradle

A cat’s cradle: for me, a metaphor for the kind of springy-tension that you need between beats in when playing for some ballet exercises. Source: wikicommons

One of the hardest things to do is to play very slowly without any intermediate beats, but this plays itself. Slow exercises often have little bits of detail in them that need an occasional fine-tuning of the beat, so music like this which has several levels of metre at once is the equivalent of making sure you’ve got plenty of change for the parking meter (no pun intended) as well as a bundle of notes for your larger purchases.

A juicy csárdás by any other name…

The term that comes instantly to mind for this music is “Juicy csárdás.” I don’t think it is really a csárdás, but I’m just calling it that as a placeholder for something slow and Hungarian. Why juicy? Not sure, but I think it’s because you sort of squeeze the notes out between the beats, you can almost feel a productive tension as you play, as if you’re playing the accordion. I couldn’t think of a tempo/expression word to put at the beginning, but when I played it for class yesterday, the teacher smiled and said, “I like that – moodily East European” and that summed it up. I won’t risk offending moody East Europeans by putting it on the score, but it just goes to show how easily music conveys culturally sedimented meanings. For more on that, see Marina Frolova-Walker’s wonderful article on why we think all Russian music is sad   .

Only when I’d nearly finished did I realise that I should have notated it in 4/8 so that you could see the longer lines, and how beats belong together. The image at the top of this post will give you the idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to redo the whole thing (I know there’s a plug-in in Sibelius for this, but it doesn’t copy anything except notes and articulations, so it would have taken ages to edit).

See also


Frolova-Walker, M. (2000). “All Russian Music is So Sad”: Two Constructions of the Russian Soul, through Literature and Music. In D. Greer (Ed.), Musicology and sister disciplines: Past, Present, Future: Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of the International Musicological Society, London, 1997. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tari, L. (2012). The Verbunkos, a music genre and musical symbol of Hungary. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov, 5(54), 81–86.

A year of ballet playing cards: #40 The Csárdás (1D)



Csárdás for ballet class by Liszt

Click on the picture to download the sheet music for a Csárdás for ballet class

Diamonds: a set of pieces in 4: See the Year of Ballet Playing Cards information page

A csárdás for ballet class: something for everyone

One of most awkward kinds of 4/4 that you need for class is one that is in strict tempo without sounding too boxy; strong but not so strong that it sounds like a march; slow but without being flaccid or adage-like; upright and proud but without sounding pompous or baroque; in four, but with strong off-beats. It’s the kind of music that’s defined more by what it isn’t than what it is: you have to constantly avoid drifting into the music that feels more natural.

Help is at hand: enter the csárdás (pronounced char-dash, and sometimes spelled czardas outside Hungary  – csárdás is the Hungarian spelling), or rather the slow part of that dance, called the lassú  – the fast part is called friss. Liszt’s arrangement of this tune, which is as carefully detailed as something by Percy Grainger, is a good example of the kind of rich chord voicing, varied dynamics, interesting phrasing, careful articulation and accentuation that sounds good for class: it’s less about the tunes, than about how you play them. It also shows that backbeat wasn’t invented in the 1950s, it was alive and kicking (or should we say “snaring”?) at least a century earlier.

Something borrowed, something Hungarian: the bring and buy sale of 19th century music

If this piece sounds or looks familiar, it’s because it sounds suspiciously like Glazunov nicked it for the introduction to the Grand Pas Hongrois in Act 3 of Raymonda. It seems Hungarian music was just up for grabs in the nineteenth century  – Delibes didn’t write the csárdás in CoppéliaLiszt – like Brahms in his Hungarian Dances –  borrowed the tunes for his Magyar Dalok and Hungarian Rhapsodies from somewhere else, from so-called “folk tunes” which nonetheless were written by actual composers such as Jozsef Kossovits and Márk Rózsavölgyi who apparently provided the tune for this dance (well worth downloading the score of a few Hungarian dances by Rózsavölgyi from IMSLP, by the way). Who knows where it originated? You can find it as Jaj de huncut a… on page 103 of Vol 1. of the 101 Hungarian Folksongs, and you can hear it sung in the Youtube clip below (scroll to 1.20 if it doesn’t automatically start there).



Amongst other things, Glazunov seems to have borrowed at least the first bar or two of this, the folk song “Elmenten én a szölöbe” (page 20 in vol. 2 of 101 Hungarian Folksongs) and also a tune by Hubay for the first coda  (see earlier post on Glazunov, Raymonda and Hullàmzò Balaton). In turn, you’ll find that tune in volume two of the 101 folksongs, as “Én vagyok az aki nem jó” (p.29). Come to think of it, why do we this borrowing in music? It’s not like the composers give it back to the “folk” after they’ve finished with it, and say “There you go, I think it’s all there, I gave it a good wash yesterday.”


The opening of the Grand Pas Hongrois in Glazunov’s Raymonda, Act 3. Sound familiar?

I owe this piece to one of the people I learned most from, Woytek Lowski. I recorded it on the first ballet album I ever made, which was to accompany his book, The Art of Teaching of Classical BalletWoytek wanted something for a warm-up that wasn’t stodgy or relaxing: he said that on the contrary, sometimes it was good to have something that was invigorating and strong. When I played it to him, he probably thought instantly of Raymonda. It was only nearly 20 years later that I realised that the Liszt and Glazunov pieces had the same first 2 bars, which shows how important context is when you’re recognising things.

If you’re wondering why the first piece of the year is No. 40, it’s because that’s where it belongs in the deck of cards, but I’m not setting myself the burdensome task of doing them in order as the weeks go by. I’m sure I’ll be cursing at the end of the year when I’m fitting the last piece of the jigsaw, but I’d rather curse then, than every week.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that once I’d heard this lovely piece by Rózsavölgyi, I wished I transcribed that as my csárdás of choice rather than the Liszt, but that’s blogging for you – you live and learn, in that order.

See more about the csárdás for ballet class

See even more

Don’t expect a bibliography like this for every entry, it’s just that Hungarian music raises a lot of issues about nationalism, identity, borrowing, folk music and so on. This is just a small selection of what is a huge field. If the references look a bit weird in places, it’s because half of them are generated with Zotpress – a fantastic plugin for WordPress that enables you to cite-and-write using Zotero with WordPress, one of the best things I’ve seen in years – and the other half by hand. Forgive the untidiness, but I’ve only just installed it, and am still playing with settings.

See even, even more 

Playing card images by Byron Knoll 
Creative Commons License
Ballet Playing Card 40 by Liszt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

About a Year of Ballet Playing Cards


ace_of_spadesA Year of Ballet Playing Cards is a collection of 52 pieces of downloadable sheet music for ballet class with a blog entry attached. That’s one piece a week, starting today, 8th January. There will be two jokers, at some point. I’m going to blog at other times, but this is my attempt to make my blog entries a bit more regular and frequent, rather than than nothing for a month, then three at once.

Why cards? 

I decided to use a deck of cards, because there are 52 cards in pack (excluding jokers), and 52 weeks in a year. I also like the way that cards – flashcards, vocabulary cards, revision cards, and so on – enable the collecting and memorisation of information that can be rehearsed for fun. In fact, if I could pick a job that I could do for life, it would be working for a company that made novelty packs of cards (like British Wildlife, or Hungarian composers).

The idea came out of my 2014 advent calendar, “Confessions of an anxious ballet pianist” where I blogged about some of the problems of playing for class that still bother me after all this time. A lot of those problems are to do with repertoire – making sure you’ve got something that fits the exercise. All ballet pianists spend time collecting new repertoire, and since I need to do this for myself, I thought I might as well share some of the findings and the process as I go – it’s an incentive to do it. I find the discipline of the Advent calendar helpful, but when I looked at the pattern of my blogging over the year, I could see it was rather random, and that’s not great either if you’re writing or reading.

The pack: Suits 

I have used the suit order of French decks, Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, because as Doug Dyment explains, the French cards have “points” in their symbols, Spades (1), Hearts (2), Clubs (3) Diamonds (4).

I have used this ordering to come up with the following metric classification:

1 Spades – Slow (adage) pieces where it does not much matter whether they are in 3 or 4, or where you can discern tripleness or dupleness in different levels if you choose. The logic behind this (not that it is that logical) is that what you’re counting if you’re counting at all, is just a slow unit of time, a pulse, without much consideration for what passes between. In reality, this is actually still duple because the phrasing will be in eight, but spades is the “don’t really mind” meter, where the classification is not by the kind of music, but by the attitude of the listener.

2 Hearts – 6/8s, or “false” triple meter, that is, pieces which are essentially in 2 with triple subdivision. This means most waltzes, minuets and so on, but also jigs, and tarantellas. There is some overlap in dubious cases.

3 Clubs – True triple meter. See numerous posts of mine on this topic, but the repertoire in the Club suit will explain the concept. As with Hearts, there will be some dubious cases.

4 Diamonds – Duple or quadruple meter (I’m not really convinced that the distinction is important, unless you’re talking about the difference between “truly” quadruple meter which has a secondary, weaker accent on the third beat, and  “compound duple” in the sense of two bars of two joined together for the sake of saving bar lines. See a long and complex earlier post about this topic if you’re really interested.


The Ace in each suit will be in some way exemplary, outstanding, unusual, and a an introduction to the concept of the particular suit. Don’t read too much into the music that falls in this slot though – it doesn’t mean that I think it’s necessarily the best or most interesting piece.

Face cards (Jack, Queen, King)

The Jack, Queen and King of each set will be more solemn, slower, or elevated in style than the others. This is to reflect an interest of mine in dance rhythms as topics in music. See Ratner, Monelle and Agawu on this  , but most significantly, Wye Allanbrook, whose book on dance in Mozart is a classic. It’s in this book that the expressive potential of meters is outlined in a simple table. As a simple example, in the Clubs suit (truly triple meters), the face cards (JQK) will be polonaises, sarabande, ballroom mazurkas. The triple meters once they get slow tend to be regal anyway – my theory is that they require more learning, because unlike what Allanbrook calls the “danceless dance,” that is, the meters that are at walking speed with a variety of subdivision underneath that is irrelevant to the person walking, the slow triple meters demand a greater memory for “true” meter – that is, grouping of beats into a formal pattern, perhaps over six counts.

If it appears that there is some inherent gender bias in this because the queen comes before the King, I apologise. That’s the order the cards come in, but don’t read anything into whatever I place in those positions. Remember, in dancing, a King and Queen can dance together as a couple, with equal rank.

A year of ballet playing cards: the music 

What’s in this pack is of necessity out of copyright – I wanted to make available a set of music that could be downloaded and printed by anyone. It’s within everyone’s reach to find music that they know and like to play for class, from musicals, from the charts, from composers like Prokofiev, Shostakovich, film composers, and so on. But you can’t publish that online without going through complex and costly (and sometimes impossible) copyright clearance: I know, because I spent seven years in my previous job at the Royal Academy of Dance sorting out copyright clearance for music publications.

It’s not just about copyright, though. The other thing is that earlier music (especially 19th century) offers good models for improvisation, and there are some steps and combinations in ballet classes that just work with this kind of music. Once you’ve understand the principle behind the piece, you can find something else that works, but not always: sometimes, you just need something that only another repertoire will provide.

This collection is therefore a set of examples, oddities, tools, models for improvisation, and so on, it’s not a hundred best tunes for class (although I’ve done my best to find things that are nice to play, and maybe people will be happy to do class to). These are functional pieces above all, that well get you through a sticky moment when you need them.

Very little of the music here is original, or unavailable somewhere else, apart from things that I’ve arranged myself. The only difference is that it’ll be nicely typeset, edited so that it’s usable for class, and numbered so that you could, over the period of a year, put it all together in a book or file.

I’m not blogging the pieces in order, as that would be too much pressure, but I’m numbering them so that if at the end of the year, you want to put them in order (which is the idea) you can. I’m sure I’ll tweak the details as I go, that’s the fun of blogging rather than committing yourself to a whole book at a time.

Why am I doing it, and why am I doing it for free? 

Partly because one of the most frequent searches on my site is for “ballet class music” as pdf downloads. It’s such a small market that no-one wants to publish it, but the Internet makes it possible to share knowledge, and I like that. I can’t say any more than I like what I’m writing about, I like writing, I like sharing music, and one the values I hold dear is that if you can pass on help and information to someone, you should.  I depend a lot on the projects that other people have put up for free – free to me, that is, not to them (Wikipedia, IMSLP, Zotero and so on). I have an idealistic belief that if we all shared a little bit of what we can, whether that’s money, knowledge, power or a hug, the world would be a better place. I have surfed on the kindness and generosity of others, I don’t mind giving a bit back.

Having said all that, this is also my career, and this website is part of how I promote myself and let people know what I do, and I make no pretence about that. It’s supported by the work that I do outside, and if that dried up, then I’d have to close down the website. if you want to donate a small amount to the upkeep of this site – I pay for it myself so that you don’t get bombarded with adverts – then please do. All donations gratefully received, once I’ve found a way of collecting them.


Agawu, K. (2008). Music as Discourse: Semiotic Adventures in Romantic Music. OUP USA.
Ratner, L. G. (Leonard G. (1980). Classic music: Expression, form, and style. New York ; Schirmer,.
Monelle, R. (2000). The Sense of Music. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Allanbrook, W. J. (1983). Rhythmic gesture in Mozart: le nozze di Figaro & Don Giovanni. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.

Happy 2015: A new year’s ramble about Black Swan and other ballet anomalies

Bet you haven't seen this before: a piano reduction of Drigo's orchestration of Black Swan female variation

Bet you haven’t seen this before: a piano reduction of Drigo’s orchestration of Black Swan. Click on the score to download your free version.

As it’s the first day of a new year, I’ve decided to do something about one of the greatest annoyances in my list of ballet-pianist anxieties: the Black Swan female variation from Swan Lake (see earlier post for the full version of why it’s annoying). After 28 years of only ever knowing the bits that are missing from the score by guesswork, hearsay, memory and oral tradition, I’ve done a piano reduction of Drigo’s orchestration, and here it is as a free download (pdf file). Eduard Langer – who did the piano reduction of the 1895 Swan Lake – put this and other interpolations at the end of his piano score, but left them as Tchaikovsky wrote them (i.e. as piano pieces), rather than as reductions of Drigo’s orchestrations, so they are missing vital detail.

It wasn’t as easy as you might think: although the Drigo orchestration is a published score, and Drigo is out of copyright, the orchestral score isn’t yet available at IMSLP. This is when you need a friendly orchestral librarian to help you, so I asked Lars Payne at English National Ballet, if I could scan the relevant pages from their orchestral score to make the reduction. While I’m at it, let’s just pause to give an internet round of applause to Lars.


Matthew Naughtin’s book on Ballet Music: essential

The anomalies of Swan Lake that I blogged about very briefly in that earlier post are multiplied over and over again in ballet music. It’s one of the curious things about ballet that the more well known and popular something is, the harder it is to find the score. Most of the things we know so well from galas are pimped up diverts interpolated in earlier, less interesting 19th century ballets, and if you can find a score of those at all, it doesn’t have any of the interesting bits in at all, or they’re in the wrong place. The pimped-up, hand-written version has to be faxed to you from a cupboard in Minsk, or you give up and get someone else to orchestrate it for you.

Or you ask Lars, because if anyone knows where it might be, it’ll be him; except, don’t waste Lars’s time until you’ve checked whether Matthew Naughtin’s Ballet Music: A Handbook hasn’t already answered your question. Naughtin is music librarian at San Francisco Ballet (see interview with him in the Music References Services QuarterlyAll those questions that no-one else bothers to ask about ballet scores are answered in here, and the answer is often “Lars Payne” (see all 24 mentions in the Google books version for an idea of what I mean), because Lars has been gradually cleaning up all these problems and making decent scores for the ballet world for years.  To anyone who has enjoyed the orchestral music on RAD’s Grades 1-3 or Grades 4-5 (if you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to an 8 minute documentary about the making of the music for that project), you should know that had Lars not been in the middle of it all, answering questions, providing scores, knowing everything, it would never have happened. To you it’s just a CD, but actually, in librarianship terms, it was a bloody miracle.

And finally… I wrote that it was Julia Richter who taught me how to play all the bits that are missing from the Black Swan variation, when I played for my first Genée ballet competition back in 1987.  By coincidence, on Monday this week I passed by the RAD on my bike on my way to ENB to play Swan Lake. It was a clear, bright and freezing cold day which brought back memories of that occasion 28 years ago. By even greater coincidence, when I got to ENB, Julia (who was there too) said “Of course, it was about this time all those years ago we were doing the Genée competition,” and we got chatting about the Black Swan – and I discovered then that Don (Anthony) Twiner was the one who taught her how to play it.  So here, 28 years later, is the score, in case you don’t have anyone to tell you how it goes.

Creative Commons License
Black Swan (piano reduction) by Jonathan Still after Tchaikovsky/Drigo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.