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Swans and Swan Lake: from Tchaikovsky to Matthew Bourne

Nichol, Bethany (2016) Swans and Swan Lake: from Tchaikovsky to Matthew Bourne. MMus thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis looks into how the swan in Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s first ballet, Swan Lake, can be seen as a symbol of the impossible love the composer felt as a homosexual man in nineteenth century Russia. The connection has often been described in Tchaikovsky’s symphonic writing, namely Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) which should warrant similar research in his ballets. Research in the twentieth century suggesting Siegfried’s homosexuality and Tchaikovsky’s relationship with the ballet contribute to this hypothesis, but most notable is Matthew Bourne’s 1995 production of Swan Lake in its use of male swans. This reimagining of the ballet was a starting point to reassess what was within in Tchaikovsky’s original production. We start with an exploration of the swan’s place in culture and then using evidence from different productions of the ballet, as well as evidence about the composer, including his own letters, look at the multiple connections between the composer and his ballet. The connection between Tchaikovsky’s life and the ballet suggest that qualities of the composer are projected on to the production through the similarities between Tchaikovsky and Siegfried and viewing the swan as a symbol of a love that they cannot have.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss Bethany Nichol
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 13:25
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2017 13:25
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16596

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