Composers in Focus


Nicolai Tcherepnin (1873-1945). Narcisse, Autograph manuscript score, 1924. b MS Thr 465 (215). Purchased with the Howard D. Rothschild Fund, 2005.


Nicolai Tcherepnin. Photograph by. A. Bert, 1909. Howard D. Rothschild Collection. b MS Thr 414.2 (202). Bequest, 1989.


Narcisse was first presented in Monte Carlo in 1911. Although Tcherepnin had composed the charming score for Le Pavillon d’Armide, and arranged or orchestrated other works presented by the Ballets Russes, his employment with the Ballets Russes was principally as con­ductor. But when it became apparent that Maurice Ravel would not deliver his classical ballet, Daphnis et Chloé, on schedule, Tcherepnin took on the ballet Narcisse (at first titled Narcisse et Echo), which was in fact produced more than a year before the premiere of Daphnis et Chloé.

It is not known whether Tcherepnin had any opportunity to see the score of Daphnis in advance of rehearsals, but there are strong similar­ities between the two scores, not only in the performing forces (large orchestra, wordless chorus), but in the musical approach to the rather similar narratives. (One might in fact ask whether Ravel might have been influenced by Tcherepnin’s score.) In any case, Tcherepnin’s two original scores for Diaghilev deserve better familiarity.