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Diaghilev: A Life Hardcover – 15 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (15 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846681413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846681417
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 4.5 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 544,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Superb biography...the definitive life of Diaghilev (Bee Wilson Sunday Times 2009-10-18)

An important new biography...Scheijen begins at the end, with a magnificent meditation on his subject's death in Venice...Drawing on a great deal of new research...Scheijen puts Diaghilev into a different frame to any of his previous biographers...He debunks many of the myths...Scheijen masterfully recounts the phenomenal way in which Diaghilev contrived, under virtually impossible circumstances, to nurture a sequence of works...Where Scheijen triumphs is in making clear the degree to which, despite the cosmopolitanism of so much of the work, Russia was at the core of Diaghilev (Simon Callow Guardian 2009-11-14)

Reading this biography is as stimulating as plugging yourself into the national grid (Frances Wilson Sunday Times Best Biographies of 2009 2009-11-29)

Magnificent...filled with extraordinary glamour (Rupert Christiansen Mail on Sunday 2009-11-29)

Scheijen's portrait is drawn with a sharp nib (Luke Jennings Observer 2009-10-25)

It's a fabulous, complicated, very sexy story and Sjeng Scheijen takes us through it with a steadying calm that fudges none of the outrage on or off stage (Duncan Fallowell Daily Express 2009-10-23)

a revelation...a remarkable achievement (Andrew Green Classical Music Magazine 2010-01-16)

A joy to handle and a lucid pleasure to read (David Nice BBC Music Magazine)

Compelling (Clement Crisp Dancing Times)

the clarity of his narrative, and his return to original sources, makes you realize anew just how extraordinary Diaghilev's achievement was (Sarah Crompton Daily Telegraph 2009-11-17)

[an] eloquent tribute (Marc O'Sullivan Irish Examiner)

Sjeng Scheijen's new book about Diaghilev is absolutely wonderful. It is filled with the most fascinating information and is a completely intriguing read...[an] exceptional book (Monica Mason, Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet)

Sjeng Scheijen's Diaghilev: A Life is the first biography to do justice to one of the twentieth century's most remarkable personalities (Lynn Garafola, Professor of Dance, Barnard)

Scheijen's book turned out to be an absolute revelation. From the moment I picked it up I couldn't put it down. For two days, almost continuously, I read and marvelled at the wealth of new information the author had managed to collect (Rudi van Dantzig, Artistic Director at the Dutch National Ballet 1971-1991)

Immensely readable...A Life is terrific - a must for anyone intrigued by the Ballets Russes (Anna Hogan Times Higher Education)

Book Description

A major new biography of Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, who revolutionised ballet, bringing together composers like Stravinsky and Prokoviev, dancers and choreographers like Nijinsky and Balanchine and artists like Picasso, Matisse, Bakst and Goncharova. An impresario of all the arts, he made a huge contribution to the arts of the twentieth century.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Philip Herring on 22 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Beautifully written and translated, Scheijen leads us through the life of this explosive and bombastic impressario who was prepared to sacrifice everything for his artistic vision. His crusade was to acquaint Russian culture with modern Western European art for their mutual benefit. He travelled widely in his youth, deliberately seeking out titans like Tolstoy and Brahms, beginning a love-affair with Venice at the age of 18years, to which he retreated most summers and where he determined to die. Failing to launch a career as musician and singer and as editor of the arts review Mir istkussva (demise 1904), he felt he was destined to promote Russian art, opera and ballet in Paris, centre of the avant-garde. His unflagging energy and organisational skills were unequalled and he cultivated the role of poseur to publicise better his promotions. Aware of his personal faults yet grossly immodest, this abrasive man would upset the artists around him but could win them back with his irresistible charm - and he knew it. He was ever devoted to his family and friends. Ballet was in the doldrums in Europe and clung on in St.Petersburg. Our debt to Diaghilev's Ballets Russes is that they reinvigorated dance and secured its future as a modern art form.He collaborated with the most progressive choreographers, dancers, designers and composers whom he impressed with his musical understanding and grasp of theatrical effects, often operating the lighting himself. His affairs with Nijinsky, Massine, Dolin and Lifar were tolerated, Diaghilev introducing them (with varying degrees of success) to the Renaissance art of Italy, which he adored. Massine and Lifar were unpromising material yet he turned them into talented dancers.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Ballet Russe continues to fascinate us a hundred years after its first big success in the West; there are many books on its history and on the life of its extraordinary progenitor, Serge Diaghilev. This one could claim to be the most comprehensive in that it is written by a specialist in Russian art who has done much new research, we are told, in obscure archives, especially in Russia; its purpose is to set the record straight rather than to imagine the often turbulent inner lives of its chief characters - giving it a certain dryness. One could say its written with an historian's eye rather than a balletomane's; events are usually viewed from the outside, while the feelings and the inner realities of the characters are left to the reader to speculate about. For some this impersonal tone will be a strength, for others a disappointment.

Diaghilev was the prototype cultural impresario who embraced art, opera, concerts and ballet, who organised huge exhibitions, who edited an influential art journal, was a critic, even a composer - though he had no artistic talent himself. He was what we would call now a networker par excellence, bringing into his enterprises many of the major cultural players of the early twentieth century; he had an unerring eye for genius, for what was revolutionary in the arts, for what was truly theatrical, and he had organisational abilities, willpower and charm second to none. He was one of the engines of modernism: it history, with all its messy contingencies, is here mapped out chronologically, accompanied by many evocative photographs.

One could say his life fell into three parts.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By K. Catleugh on 19 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Diaghilev, an extremely complex character had a huge influence on the artistic scene of his age. This book may not add a great deal of new material to the published literature which already exists on various facets of the cultural scene in the Europe of his time, but it does pull together all these elements to give a much more complete feel for the period. Social, historic, political and artistic interests are well served by this very well researched and readable work.

KC
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Smith on 20 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
A generally enlightening account of a fascinating if not sometimes repulsive genius. Full of fascinating detail, it is let down on a couple of occasions by a few foolish inaccuracies.
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