Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

Wednesday 3 December 2014 at 2.00 pm

Dr Rosamund Bartlett

Rosamund has a Doctorate from Oxford and has held senior university posts, most recently at the European University Institute in Florence. She specialises in comparative study of art, music and literature and is currently writing a book on the Russian Avant-Garde and European Modernism. Dr Bartlett is the author of several books, including biographies of Tolstoy and Chekhov, whose works she has translated for Oxford World’s Classics. She has extensive experience lecturing in Russian cultural history at venues such as the V&A, the National Theatre and Covent Garden, and broadcasts regularly on the BBC. Often invited to lecture on tours, she is founding Director of the Anton Chekhov Foundation, set up to preserve the writer’s house in Yalta.

A 100 years ago, Diaghilev decided it was time to showcase Russian culture to the world fearing it was about to be swept away (as indeed happened with the 1917 Revolution) and fervently believing it had something unique to offer. Beginning with art exhibitions, he steadily became more ambitious, taking first concerts of Russian music to Paris (works which now form the standard repertoire), then operas, then ballets, using well-regarded artists as set designers. After Tchaikovsky had made it into a serious genre in its own right, Russian ballet was at its prime, with Nijinsky and Pavlova amongst its greatest stars. In 1910 began Diaghilev’s famous collaboration with Stravinsky, the enfant terrible of 20th-century music. After The Firebird came Petrushka, and then in 1913 the Parisian haute monde was shocked to its core by the epoch-making The Rite of Spring, one of the key works which catapulted Russian artists and musicians into the forefront of the European avant-garde. The Ballets Russes contributed prominently to the “Russian Renaissance” at the beginning of the 20th century and this lecture is a celebration of the magic, creative energy and passion which lay at their heart.

Rosamund has her own website which is available by clicking here.


The lecture notes leaflet can be downloaded here


Below are photos of this lecture