The Four Temperaments (ballet)

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The Four Temperaments
Choreographer George Balanchine
Music Paul Hindemith
Premiere 20 November 1946 (1946-11-20)
Central High School of Needle Trades, New York
Original ballet company Ballet Society
Design Kurt Seligmann, Jean Rosenthal

The Four Temperaments is a ballet made by New York City Ballet co-founder and ballet master George Balanchine to music he commissioned from Paul Hindemith (the latter's eponymous 1940 music for string orchestra and piano) for the opening program of Ballet Society, immediate forerunner of City Ballet.

The work is divided into five parts, a theme and four variations, which reflect the temperaments of Galen's tradition. Balanchine downplayed the references to medieval "humors" that were believed to determine a person's temperament, saying the four personality types—melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic, and choleric—were merely points of departure for the creation of abstract music and dance.[1]

The première took place on Wednesday, 20 November 1946, at the Central High School of Needle Trades, New York City, with mise en scène by Kurt Seligmann and lighting by Jean Rosenthal. Leon Barzin conducted and the pianist was Nicholas Kopeikine. The City Ballet première was held in 1951 in practice clothes and without scenery; in 1964 it received new lighting at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, by David Hays. NYCB principal dancer Albert Evans chose to include The Four Temperaments in his farewell performance, Sunday, June 20, 2010.

The ballet can be read to be a creation story.[2]



NYCB revivals[edit]

2009 Spring[edit]

first cast[edit]
second cast[edit]
2009 Saratoga Springs[edit]
first cast[edit]
second cast[edit]
2009 Winter[edit]

See also[edit]


  • 1989, Seahorse Films, Dancing for Mr.B. (excerpts from 1947 Ballet Society rehearsal).

Videography and DVD[edit]

  • 1995 Nonesuch, The Balanchine Library: Dancing for Mr.B, excerpts from the 1947 Ballet Society rehearsal
  • 1995 Nonesuch, The Balanchine Library: Choreography by Balanchine, 1977
  • 2004 Kultur, Balanchine, excerpt from Melancholich





  1. ^ Matthew Naughtin, Ballet Music, 2014, p. 236
  2. ^ MacAulay, Alastair (29 April 2015). "Review: City Ballet's Balanchine Dances Open Spring Season". New York Times. New York, United States. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  3. ^ first time in rôle


External links[edit]