25 Facts About Diaghilev


Sergei Diaghilev was born in Selishchi to a noble officer Pavel Diaghilev.

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Diaghilev's mother died from childbed fever soon after his birth.

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The exposition of British and German watercolorists in 1897 at the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts became a huge success—one which Diaghilev repeated in 1898 with the exhibition of the Russian and Finnish artists at the Stieglitz Academy with the works of those such as Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, and Isaac Levitan.

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Diaghilev himself travelled to acquire the portraits and wrote a catalogue of 2300 art works with information on the artists, models, and other relevant data.

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Passionate to promote Russian art abroad, in 1906, Diaghilev organized and opened the 'Two Centuries of the Russian art and Sculpture' exposition at Salon d'Automne.

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Diaghilev was offered the Legion of Honour award, but refused in honour of Bakst.

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The post was usually a nominal one, but since Diaghilev managed to actively engage into the theatrical world, he was made responsible for the production of the Annual of the Imperial Theaters.

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Diaghilev invited many of his fellow members in Mir iskusstva to work on the magazine, design fonts and create illustrations.

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Diaghilev showed himself as a successful promoter by finding sponsors, advertisers, and o new distribution channels.

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At that time Diaghilev started frequent visits to repetitions of the Imperial Ballet.

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Diaghilev was especially interested in young Mathilde Kschessinska, who was flattered by the attention of an already famous art connoisseur.

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Diaghilev brought the members of Mir iskusstva with him to the Imperial theatres.

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At that time, Diaghilev was rather skeptical about ballet; he said that 'anyone with no special wit can enjoy it, there is no sense or subject in ballet'.

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Serge Lifar recalled that to the end of his days Diaghilev referred to the corps-de-ballet dancers as 'a herd of cattle'.

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Diaghilev's innovation was to synthesize dance, music and visual arts with set decorations and costumes into a single performance.

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Diaghilev commissioned ballet music from composers such as Nikolai Tcherepnin, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, Manuel de Falla, Richard Strauss, Sergei Prokofiev ; Ottorino Respighi ; Francis Poulenc and others.

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Diaghilev played a decisive role in the career of Sergey Prokofiev.

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Diaghilev heard Stravinsky's early orchestral works Fireworks and Scherzo fantastique, and was impressed enough to ask Stravinsky to arrange some pieces by Chopin for the Ballets Russes.

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Diaghilev made Boris Kochno his secretary in 1920 and staged Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty in London in 1921; it was a production of remarkable magnificence in both settings and costumes, but, despite being well received by the public, it was a financial disaster for Diaghilev and Oswald Stoll, the theatre-owner who had backed it.

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Diaghilev was a pioneer in adapting these new musical styles to modern ballet.

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Nijinsky's later bitter comments about Diaghilev inspired a mention in W H Auden's poem "September 1,1939":.

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Diaghilev dismissed Nijinsky summarily from the Ballets Russes after the dancer's marriage to Romola de Pulszky in 1913.

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Diaghilev was known as a hard, demanding, even frightening taskmaster.

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Diaghilev lived from paycheck to paycheck to finance his company, and though he spent considerable amounts of money on a splendid collection of rare books at the end of his life, many people noticed that his impeccably cut suits had frayed cuffs and trouser-ends.

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Diaghilev died of diabetes in Venice on 19 August 1929, and his tomb is on the nearby island of San Michele, near to the grave of Stravinsky, in the Orthodox section.

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