Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet

Choreography by: George Balanchine

Music by: Johannes Brahms 

A sweeping romantic work for 55 dancers, the Austro-Hungarian-inflected Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet ends in an intoxicating finale.

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet was the first abstract work Balanchine designed for the stage of the New York State Theater, which replaced the smaller City Center of Music and Drama as the home of New York City Ballet in 1964. Balanchine often said that chamber music was not suitable for large ballets, since chamber pieces typically are "too long, with too many repeats, and are meant for small rooms." Schoenberg crafted his orchestration of the Brahms G minor piano quartet in the 1930's out of a similar dissatisfaction, telling a critic that the chamber version "is always very badly played, as the better the pianist, the louder he plays, and one hears nothing of the strings." Lincoln Kirstein writes that the dances "seem steeped in the apprehension and change permeating the sunset of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. They suggest a world drunk on 'wine and roses.'"


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Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 (1861), orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg (1937)
April 12, 1966, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater
Original Cast
Melissa Hayden, Gloria Govrin, Patricia McBride, Allegra Kent, Suzanne Farrell, André Prokovsky, Conrad Ludlow, Edward Villella, Jacques d'Amboise

43 Min.
Costumes by
Set by
Peter Harvey, executed by Feller Scenery Studios; David Mitchell (1986)
Lighting by
Ronald Bates