The Kreutzer Sonata
The ballet is based on Tolstoy’s novella of the same name which tells the riveting tale of love, jealousy, and revenge. A precipitating event in the novella takes place when the protagonist Pozdnischeff arranges a soiree where Beethoven’s “Kreutzer Sonata” is played by his wife and Trookhatschevsky, her music teacher, hence the title of the novella.
Leos Janacek, the great Czech composer, had also read Tolstoy’s story and wanted to use it as the basis of an opera. However, the story was so controversial that his publisher felt he would be risking his career on such an endeavor. Therefore, he took the themes from the opera and used them for a string quartet called “The Kreutzer Sonata.”
When Eric Pritchard of the Ciompi Quartet suggested a ballet to these two scores which were in the Ciompi repertoire, I was intrigued. I read the novella and listened to the two pieces of music but realized there wasn’t enough music to tell the story completely. I commissioned J. Mark Scearce to fill in the gaps. It is amazing how seamlessly Mark was able to incorporate his music into the existing two scores. Half of the music is Mark’s and was new in 2000 when we premiered the ballet. —Robert Weiss