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Seventh Symphony

The Ballet Russe Collection

© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Ballet in four movements choreographed by Leonide Massine.
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Scenery by Christian Berard.
First production by the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo
Monte Carlo, May 5, 1938.
Original title: La Septieme Symphonie.

The four movements of the ballet bore subtitles, and the general tones of the scenery were in association with those:

  1. The Creation (grey);
  2. The Earth (ochre);
  3. The Sky (blue);
  4. Bacchanale (red).

Seventh Symphony was sterner stuff [than Gaite Parisienne]. It was what Massine termed a symphonic ballet, a ballet in which a famous piece of concert music was given choreographic realization, usually of an allegorical or symbolic nature. Here, to the Beethoven symphony that Wagner once dubbed the 'apotheosis of the dance', Massine depicted nothing less than the creation and destruction of the world. The first movement showed the spirit of creation joyously summoning the creatures of earth to life, while the second, with its procession of lamenting women carrying the inert body of a young man, suggested that this idyll had been shattered by the coming of death. In the third... gods disported themselves in the sky. On earth, however, in the fourth movement, mankind gave itself up to debauchery until divine judgment sent fire to consume the world.

Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo

Nearly all pieces of this ballet's scenery can be found in the Butler Ballet's collection, except for a drop for the third movement (if there was one). We have three sets of legs and borders for each movement, and three drops altogether. Unfortunately, only the sets for the second movement have remained relatively unscathed. The first and third movement in particular have become very faded, and this makes it hard to distinguish much of anything beside the general tone of the set.

Below are the pictures of the sets for each movement.

Scenery for the First Movement, The Creation(touched-up image)

Scenery for the Second Movement, The Earth(reconstructed image)

Scenery for the Third Movement, The Sky (the backdrop is the from the first movement)

Scenery for the Fourth Movement, Bacchanale

Reproduction, including downloading of Berard works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.