Tschaikowsky Meets Sleeping Beauty ……by Cathy Leo

Peter Ilitch Tschaikowsky composed “The Sleeping Beauty” ballet in 1889.  It’s difficult to believe that those many years ago ” Sleeping Beauty” was born. Who knew? Who thought about it? Who could have imagined that such a great composer was responsible for such a great Disney Character as ” Sleeping Beauty ”  aka “Princess Aurora”? I came upon this revelation one day as I sat at my piano looking through some of my old music books. I like to tickle the ivories once in a while playing some classical music. I was going page by page thru Tschaikowsky’s  music and to my surprise encountered ” Valse Lente” from “The Sleeping Beauty Ballet”. As a young music student I had played it over and over but this one time in particular I really felt it. It was truly music to my ears! How thrilling that moment was when I realized I was playing the music from ” Sleeping Beauty”. According to the music book the Russians have always been very fond of Ballet. It’s a known fact that Russian Ballet is renowned throughout the world. Tschaikowsky like other Russian Composers has written lots of music for this very form of art(ballet). This piece ” Valse Lente ” Ballet ” is taken from ” The Sleeping Beauty Ballet “.

Tchaikowsky also wrote ” Swan Lake” in 1876 which he was proud of.  But, he was so proud of “Sleeping Beauty” which is a near perfect classic. It was a story of fantasy that was filled with magic and poetry. He was so proud of himself because the Fairy Tale was seen as the height of classical ballet. It was in 1888 that the director of the Imperial Theater in Moscow told Tchaikowsky that he was going to write a new ballet and that he wanted the composer to write the music. The story was based on the Grimm Brother’s version of the imaginative Frenchman Charles Perrault’s 18th century tale ” The Sleeping Beauty”. It was his second ballet and he fell in love with it. He was so enthused that he wrote it in record time. He wrote the sketch of 3 hours of music in just 40 days. The Premier of Tchaikowsky’s Sleeping Beauty Ballet was in St. Petersburg in 1890. It’s a ballet that is a favorite all over the world.

There was a Trademark controversy. The Walt Disney Company has registered a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office filed March 13,2007 for the name “Princess Aurora”. This seems to cover production and distribution of motion picture films, production of television programs, and productions of sound and video programs. Disney did acquire some of the music for its animated 1959 film “Sleeping Beauty”. And now when I hear of play the Valse Lente, the Sleeping Beauty music I think how ahead of his time this great composer was. It’s because of him that this music will go on forever in Ballet and with Disney. It’s not 1889 any longer. It’s 2017 and the memory of the composer and this Disney Classic both continue to bring joy and excitement to children and adults around the world. “I’m never too old to be young” ! I live my life to the fullest. I’m always learning something new.

“You’re Never Too Old To Be Young” !

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