Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty

Classical Academy | Ballet | Composers


At the Mariisnky Theatre on 15 January 1890 a spectacular performance of music and dance stunned the audience in St Petersburg in more ways than one - at nearly four hours in lenth with intermissions Sleeping Beauty requires a significant commitment from its viewer. One such viewer seemed less than convinced - Tsar Alexander III sitting in his imperial box turned around as the ballet finished and said just this, "Very nice". Needless to say, Tchaikovsky was not amused.


The ballet centres on the conflicting forces of good and evil. On the one hand there's the Lilac Fairy, on the other Carabosse, each with their own leitmotif. Although more successful than Swan Lake still had a hard time with European audiences in Tchaikovsky's lifetime. However, for the Russians it was delightful and it soon became the Imperial Ballet's second most popular work to perform, with over 200 performances in only 10 years.


The Sleeping Beauty waltz in particular remains a hugely popular piece today in classical music repertoire. Imagine the grace of the dancers as they rise and fall in time to the beat on this recording that also features other popular moments from Tchaikovsky's ballets.


Click here to learn all about the beauty of ballet music or discover a charming ballet by Delibes or find out more about Beethoven's Coppelia.