27 Facts About Sergei Diaghilev


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


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


In 1873, Pavel met and married Elena Panaeva, who loved Sergei Diaghilev and raised him as her own child.


Sergei Diaghilev composed his first romance at the age of 15.


Sergei 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.


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


Sergei 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 Sergei Diaghilev managed to actively engage into the theatrical world, he was made responsible for the production of the Annual of the Imperial Theaters.


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


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


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


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


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


Sergei Diaghilev didn't think much of a civil servant career, so he went abroad and immersed in his other plans.


Sergei Diaghilev turned for help to his other friend, Misia Sert.


At that time, Sergei 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'.


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


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


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


Sergei 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.


Sergei 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 Sergei Diaghilev and Oswald Stoll, the theatre-owner who had backed it.


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


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


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


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

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Sergei 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.


Sergei 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.