Variation de Calliope
Pas de Deux
Igor Stravinsky wrote of Apollon Musagète: "Apollo was commissioned by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge for performance in the Library of Congress. Mrs. Coolidge asked for a work of thirty minutes duration employing an instrumentation appropriate to a small hall. The choice of the subject and the choice of the string ensemble were my own. Apollo and the Muses suggested to me not so much a plot as a signature, or what I already have called a manner. The muses do not instruct Apollo - as a god he is already a master beyond instruction - but show him their arts for his approval.
The success of Apollo as a ballet must be attributed to the dancing of Serge Lifar and to the beauty of Balanchine's choreography, especially to constructions such as the 'troika' in the Coda and the 'wheelbarrow' at the beginning, in which two girls support a third carrying Apollo's lute.
In Apollo I tried to discover a melodism free of folklore. The choice of another Classical subject was natural after Oedipus Rex. Apollo was my largest single step toward a long-line polyphonic style, and though it has a harmonic and melodic, above all intervallic, character of its own, it nourished many later works as well. Apollo was also my first attempt to compose a large-scale work in which contrasts of volumes replace contrasts with instrumental colours. Volumes are seldom mentioned as a primary musical element, and how few listeners have remarked the real joke in Pulcinella duet, which is that the trombone has very loud voice and the string bass almost no voice at all.
In conclusion, I may say that I have come to prefer the title 'Apollo' to the original 'Apollon Musagète'."