Instant Expert: Shostakovich and Ballet

When you think ballet music, you probably think Russian. Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev: much of the greatest ballet music of the 19th and 20th century came from Russia. Yet we don’t often think of Dmitri Shostakovich in this category, even though he’s known as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

But Shostakovich did write music for ballets—three, in fact: The Golden Age (1930), The Bolt (1931), and The Bright Stream (1935). All three were censored in Soviet Russia and therefore rarely performed following their premieres.

Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has done much to revive the idea of Shostakovich as a composer well-suited to ballet, choreographing to eleven of his works, including the three ballets that comprise the Shostakovich Trilogy. He’s even made new versions of The Bolt and The Bright Stream for the Bolshoi Ballet, bringing these ballets back to life.

Header Image: SF Ballet in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy // © Erik Tomasson

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