The Comedians (Kabalevsky)

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The Comedians, Op. 26, is an orchestral suite of ten numbers by Dmitry Kabalevsky. It is one of his best-known and best-loved works.[1]

In particular, the "Comedians' Galop" (No. 2) is the single most famous piece of music he ever wrote.[2] It has the same recognition factor as an easily accessible work by a Soviet composer as the "Sabre Dance" from Aram Khachaturian's ballet Gayane (1942).

Background[edit]

In 1938 or 1939, Kabalevsky wrote incidental music for a children's play called The Inventor and the Comedians, by the Soviet Jewish writer Mark Daniel. The play was staged at the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow, and it was about the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg and a group of travelling buffoons.[3][2][4] Mark Daniel died young the following year.[3]

Concert suite[edit]

In 1940, Kabalevsky chose ten short numbers from the incidental music and arranged them into a concert suite. The movements are:

  • Prologue: Allegro vivace
  • Comedians' Galop: Presto
  • March: Moderato
  • Waltz: Moderato
  • Pantomime: Sostenuto e pesante
  • Intermezzo: Allegro scherzando
  • Little Lyrical Scene: Andantino semplice
  • Gavotte: Allegretto
  • Scherzo: Presto assai e molto leggiero
  • Epilogue: Allegro molto e con brio.

The Comedians has been frequently recorded, and is often coupled with Aram Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite on recordings.

The "Galop" was used as the theme tune for the U.S. panel game show Masquerade Party for many years.[4]

References[edit]