Jean Sibelius' ardent melodies inspire a poignant portrait loss in this mournful pas de deux.
Valse Triste, a pas de deux choreographed by Peter Martins in 1985, uses two pieces by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, "Valse Triste" and "Scene with Cranes." Both are reworkings of music originally written in 1903 for the play Kuolema (Death), written by Sibelius’s brother-in-law, Arvid Järnefelt. Sibelius had a keen interest in the theater and was delighted to supply music for the play, composing six "scenes" scored for strings and percussion. The first of these was revised by Sibelius the following year and published as "Valse Triste," a work that has since enjoyed immense popularity. Despite its brevity, this miniature tone-poem manages to encompass an entire world of melancholy, nostalgia, and resignation. In 1906, Sibelius combined the play’s third and fourth musical scenes into one piece, “Scene with Cranes,” significantly rewriting the material and changing the orchestration. This music contains motifs that reflect the composer’s fascination with birdlife, an interest that would exert a larger influence on his later works.