Allegro Brillante

  • Choreographer: George Balanchine (Staged by Zippora Karz 2024) (Staged by Victoria Simon 1983, 1986 , 1993)
  • Music: P. I. Tchaikovsky, Third Piano Concerto
  • Costumes: Janet Marie Groom, after Karinska
  • Lighting: Cindy Limauro, Tony Tucci (1989); Recreated by William O'Donnell (1993)
  • World Premiere: New York City Ballet, March 1, 1956
  • PBT Performance Date: October 31-November 2, 1983; October 23-26, 1986, November 16-19, 1989: November 18-21, 1993; April 20-22, 2007; April 2024

Program Notes

(Reprinted with permission of New York City Ballet)

Allegro Brillante is characterized by what Maria Tallchief (the ballerina on whom the bravura leading role was created) calls “an expansive Russian romanticism.” The music’s vigorous pace makes the steps appear even more difficult, but the ballet relies on strong dancing, precise timing, and breadth of gesture. Balanchine said: “It contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes.”

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was originally written as a symphony. But as it was nearing completion, the composer, dissatisfied with it, converted the first movement into a concert piece for piano and orchestra. Later on, he altered the andante and finale of the symphony in similar fashion.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine later studied piano in addition to his studies in dance. Tchaikovsky is one of the most popular and influential of all romantic composers. His work is expressive, melodic, grand in scale, with rich orchestrations. His output was prodigious and included chamber works, symphonies, concerti for various instruments, operas and works for the piano. His creations for the ballet include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, the latter two composed in close partnership with Marius Petipa.