Throughout his life, Balanchine was attracted to Glazounov’s music for Raymonda. He loved what he called the music’s “grand and generous manner, its joy and playfulness.”
As a student in St. Petersburg, Balanchine danced in the Maryinsky Theater production that had originally been choreographed by Marius Petipa. After leaving Russia, Balanchine and the ballerina Alexandra Danilova mounted the full-length Raymonda for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1946. At New York City Ballet, Balanchine produced three works to portions of the Raymonda score: Pas de Dix, Cortège Hongrois, and Raymonda Variations. The music in Pas de Dix and Cortège Hongrois was taken mostly from the last act of Raymonda. For Raymonda Variations, Balanchine drew on music from the first act.
Alexander Glazounov (1865-1936), a student of Rimsky-Korsakov, was director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music from 1906 to 1917. It was during his tenure there that he was called to the Maryinsky to play piano for a rehearsal of Raymonda; Balanchine was one of the dancers present. Besides ballets, Glazounov composed eight symphonies, a piano concerto, a violin concerto, chamber music, and orchestral tone poems.