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Esmeralda male variation music (clip of the piano score)
Click to download the score (pdf)

You can never have enough grand allegro, and this is handy because it’s in a class of pieces that are ballet music, which means that you have to be careful where you play them, but on the other hand, it’s repertoire that’s not often performed, so either people won’t know where it’s from, or they’ll smile and go “Isn’t that…??” and you look good because you know weird stuff that you found on Youtube. The solo is at 48’46” in the clip below. It should start there automatically when you click, but if it doesn’t, drag the slider to the correct time.

See also: 

Esmeralda male variation music: the meter (for geeks only)

This should really be in the Clubs suit, not Hearts, because it’s actually a truly triple meter, not the dodgy six-eight kind—the phrases end on the eighth count, not the seventh. What fooled me was the melodic phrasing, which is in two bar units, which definitely feels duple.  But look more closely, and not only are the cadences on 8, but also the harmony changes every bar, which strengthens the case for truly triple metre even more. Also, the introductory vamp before the first jump is one bar long, not two, which aligns somewhat with what William Rothstein has to say about “Franco-Italian hypermeter.” I transcribed this from the recording, so I don’t know whether in fact Drigo did write in 6/8, in which case the single count  vamp would align with that theory even more.  If it were the case, then the “extra” bar in the middle is not extra at all, because the melody begins on the half-bar in a 6/8 (but don’t try actually playing it that way in class).

On the other hand, it could just be a kind of compositional economy: given that you’ve already got an eight-bar phrase of entrance music, you don’t want to prolong the vamp any more than absolutely necessary, so keep it short, if you must have one.  Maybe it’s there  to provide the dancer with a run-up into the first jump (the vamp-like nature of the music telling the audience that what’s happening isn’t yet dance, just preamble to be ignored.

Once you start thinking about Rothstein’s theory (see other posts here and here) it makes something apparently as unimportant as an introduction suddenly fascinating, and it opens up all kinds of possible discussions about metre, grouping, phrasing, accent, and so on. For me, dance makes those questions particularly obvious because you’re dealing with accents and trajectories that happen in time, but they aren’t “musical” in the sense of being tied to time signature or accent. It’s like seeing a landscape compared to an ordnance survey map.



9 thought on “A year of ballet playing cards #16 : Esmeralda male variation music (3h)”
  1. Jonathan, you’ll never know how happy I was to be able to download the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux. Thank you so much. I didn’t think I could ever find it. I am not a ballet accompanist, but I love ballet and play the piano. I wanted to ask if you know of piano music of the first pas de deux of the pas de six by Riccardo Drigo in Esmeralda. The piece is very beautiful, I think. I was able to find the valse lente, which I also love, for piano through the Sibley Mirroring Program but could not locate the pas de six for piano. If you would know where I could find it, I would be very appreciative. I have only a yahoo email and not a website and am not sure what to enter in the website field below. Thank you again, Patty

      1. Hello, do you have Esmeralda Act 1 entrance variation?
        Marc-André Lamirande, Monteal, Canads ballet pianist.

      2. Hello, do you have Esmeralda First Act Entrance Variation? Thank you! Marc-André Lamirande Montreal, canada ballet pianist.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist