Pyotr tchaikovsky Dance Of The little Swans
Tchaikovsky’s famously elegant piece from the ballet Swan Lake, arranged and transcribed here by Bridget Mermikides – meet ‘les petits cygnes’.
Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes a delicate and elegant piece by the Russian composer, taken from the ballet Swan Lake.
In this latest instalment of our classical guitar series we return to the work of the great Tchaikovsky (1840-93), a Russian composer who had an incredible ability to produce countless melodies characterised by both technical sophistication and broad public appeal. The popularity of his work is so established, that his many themes for ballet and orchestra (including the 1812 Overture, his 5th Symphony, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker Suite and The Sleeping Beauty) are not only performed in their original ballet and orchestral forms to this day, but are also embedded in popular culture, film and TV around the world. Tchaikovsky’s genius was recognised in his lifetime and he was highly successful and celebrated. Unfortunately, his short life was plagued with a deep depression, feelings of worthlessness, cultural intolerance of his homosexuality and a very unhappy marriage. Some believe his early death at age 53 may be attributed to suicide. Yet despite his demons, his music contains a magical innocence and joy that’s perfectly exhibited in the beautiful Dance Of The Little Swans from Act 2 of Swan Lake, which I have arranged and transcribed here.
The 1876 ballet Swan Lake – adapted from traditional Russian folk tales – tells the story of Princess Odette (in the lead ballerina role) who has been transformed into a swan by a sorcerer with, as you’d probably expect, a deeply tragic romantic conclusion. The Dance Of The Little Swans (originally titled Danses de Petits Cygnes, Act 2 Mvt. No. 13). The music and choreography work perfectly together; and the choreography, which enacts four swans in perfect sync attempting – and ultimately failing – to fly, is as recognisable and widely known as the music. There is an elegant and magical quality to the music that is testament to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s genius, and exactly what I’ve tried to capture here with this arrangement.
To compress this orchestral setting down to solo guitar I’ve transposed it to Dm with drop D tuning, which allows the idiomatic realisation on solo guitar of the main melodic and harmonic elements.
This piece needn’t be played particularly fast, but to maintain its elegance and magic may take some work. Both hands get a real workout negotiating the sustained melody and interjected (sometimes staccato) chords, so look at the tab captions to get you through any challenges. Once learnt, make accuracy and expression your performance goals.
There is an elegant and magical quality TO The music; exactly what i’ve tried TO capture in this arrangement
NEXT MONTH Bridget arranges and transcribes the Aria from Rinaldo by George Handel
Pyotr Tchaikovsky: another troubled musical genius