In my musical journey through 1875, I have come across a surprizingly large number of pieces that have since become so famous that even people who don’t think they’ve heard any classical music recognise with ease. The first of these is an extract from a ballet written that year by the French composer Leo Delibes. You may think that you don’t know it but you would be wrong.
Rita Sangalli in the first production of Sylvia
Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Here it is the eloquently moving final scene where Sylvia, the beautiful and elegant Aurelie Dupont and Aminta, a love-lorn Manuel Legris try to patch up their relationship to Delibes’ most famous tune in the Paris production wittily and radically choreographed by John Neumeier. Stay with it to the end and discover that Delibes deserved the praise heaped on this work by a generous-spirited Tchaikovsky busy himself writing the score for Swan Lake: