Sunday, February 9, 2014

Aram Khachaturian - Sabre Dance

Image via el Wik
This was written by a Soviet Commie, and you've heard it.  You can probably hum along to it, because it's pure, distilled 100 proof awesome.  It's so awesome that if you want to get ten year old school boys hooked on ballet, this is your ticket.  Because it has sabres, dig?

The Sochi Olympics opened with this as one of the songs in the opening ceremonies.  They were showing off Russian composers, and Khachaturian is one of the Big Three (along with Prokofiev and Shostakovitch).

Khachaturian was from Tsarist (and later, Soviet) Armenia, born just after the turn of the 20th Century.  An early adopter of communism, he was active in the revolutionary propaganda effort for the Armenian S.S.R. from around 1920.  This gave him a ticket to Moscow where his entirely untrained but prodigious musical talent was soon apparent.  By 1930 he was at the Moscow Conservatory, and wrote his first symphony soon after.

Say what you will about the Soviet Union, they produced some fine music in the early days.  But those days were not to last.  1948 saw the Zhdanov  decree which condemned Prokofiev, Shostakovitch, and Khachaturian as "formalist" and "anti-popular".  By this time all three had world wide reputations as the titans of Soviet music yet, in the twilight of Stalin's madness all were forced to publicly apologize.

Say what you will about the Soviet Union, they sure knew how to take a step or two backwards after a step forwards.

Khachaturian was a true believer in communism, and this hit him hard.  While not only was there a Gulag in his future, he continued being awarded Stalin Prizes.  But the heart went out of him, and really his best work is past by 1950.  The injustice of the situation was insurmountable for him.  This year's Olympic opening ceremonies sort of skated past this bit.

But the music is superb, and you easily may know this by heart.  But this is the Sabre Dance (from the ballet Gayane*), and so edged weapons are de rigeur.  I recommend that you watch this in full screen mode to see the spinning death.

Like I said, you want to attract young boys to the ballet, show them this.

Note that I'm an Amazon Affiliate.  If you like this music and are interested in buying it, please consider hitting this link.  There's no extra cost to you.  This album has a bunch of his best known works on it, including not just this but Spartacus as well.  I quite like the MP3 Amazon option.

* Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Just don't talk to Russian children about it.


libertyman said...

I just ordered it! I hope I am your first customer! You'll be rich!
Also in my order is Marko's Lines of Departure. I will finish Terms of Enlistment today. And , why yes, I KNOW these guys!

Sabre dance plays in the background (either really, or in my mind) whenever there is some frantic activity or job to be done i.e. company coming! late for work! Amazing how the music can characterize the actions.

And the athleticism of the dancers! I seem to recall the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out with the Pittsburgh Ballet (work with me, as this was almost 40 years ago)and the football players could not keep up with the dancers.

A great class this morning, as always.

Dave H said...

I think I remember hearing about the Steelers' workout with the dancers. Didn't they start adding aerobic workouts to their training schedules after that?

In the Steelers' defense, most ballet dancers aren't hauling around 300+ pounds of violent tendencies everywhere they go.

Borepatch said...

Libertyman, thank you very much.

Chickenmom said...

Would have loved to see that in person.

libertyman said...

You are most welcome, and on your way to riches beyond your wildest dreams.

Or at at least a few bucks towards that Garand or two wheeled dream bike.

Every bit helps.

newrebeluniv said...

Great advice. Trick young boys into becoming effeminate poofs by showing them the one dance they will never get to actually do.

If the goal is to teach them to play with swords, fencing school seems more reasonable.