Allegro Brillante is characterized by what Maria Tallchief (the ballerina on whom the bravura leading role was created) calls “an expansive Russian romanticism.” The music’s vigorous pace makes the steps appear even more difficult, but the ballet relies on strong dancing, precise timing, and breadth of gesture. Balanchine said: “It contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes.”
Tschaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto was originally written as a symphony. But as it was nearing completion, the composer, dissatisfied with it, converted the first movement into a concert piece for piano and orchestra. Later on, he altered the andante and finale of the symphony in similar fashion. Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (1840-1893) studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine later studied piano in addition to his studies in dance. Tschaikovsky is one of the most popular and influential of all romantic composers. His work is expressive, melodic, and grand in scale, with rich orchestrations. His output was prodigious and included chamber works, symphonies, concerti for various instruments, operas, and works for the piano. His creations for the ballet, composed in close partnership with Marius Petipa, include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty.