Music for Bournonville
August Bournonville had a fine command of language and expressed his views on music in many a well-turned phrase: “Music, which to the uninitiated would only seem to serve the ballet as an attendant, is actually its real vital principle: melody and harmony evoke atmosphere and character, rhythm determines movement, and there are instances of music which can, as it were, carry forth the words and are of great help to the expression of meaning, aye, to the depiction of the whole situation.
The same sentiments are expressed in a more succinct and modern way by principal dancer Thomas Lund when he explains that “legs are the rhythm and arms are the melody.“ Bearing this in mind, we are quite justified in having high expectations of ballet music, and Bournonville is indeed an extremely important chapter in Danish music history. From 1830 until 1877 he commissioned a great deal of music from Danish composers and showed a remarkable talent for spotting potential young composers for his ballets.
The music composed by 20-year-old Herman Severin Løvenskjold for the Romantic ballet “La Sylphide“ in 1836 proved to be the greatest achievement of his career. “La Sylphide“ is an outstanding ...