Merritts Hill Music

Merritts Hill Music

Spartacus - 3 Scenes from the Ballet

Aram Khachaturyan

Category: 10-piece Brass

Duration: 9' 00"

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The idea of a portrayal in dance of the cruel Roman repression of a slave rebellion occurred to Khachaturyan as early as 1933, although it had to wait for two waves of Stalin's purges and then his death before it reached the stage in 1956. It is hard to account for the delay, when the story of a heroic slave's pursuit of freedom from his imperialist oppressors made an ideal subject for a Soviet Socialist Realist work. The ballet was well received to the extent of Khachaturyan being awarded the Lenin prize, but when in 1968 it was reshaped from four acts into three it became the hit we recognise today. TV viewers have the Bolshoi Ballet's visit to Covent Garden in 1969 to thank for the Onedin Line theme.

The three scenes offered here can be played in any order, but as they stand:

1. Aegina dances to impress the Roman commander Crassus; presumably she is successful as an orgy ensues.

2. The Adagio is a love duet on dry land between Spartacus and his wife, but thanks to the BBC it is hard not to imagine sailing ships.

3. Crassus is being entertained again, this time by dancing girls from Cadiz, famous for their fandango. His pleasure is cut short when the rebels burst in and assault him brutally in 3/4.

Reproduced by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.